§ Mr. Ewart
rose to move as an Amendment, that—While it is expedient to open the public Educational Establishments of Ireland to the Catholics, to reduce to its due dimensions the Irish Church, and to establish entire civil and religious equality between Great Britain and Ireland, it is not advisable to extend the principle of religious endowment by the State.He said that he unwillingly disturbed the drowsy tranquillity of the House on the third reading of a Bill; but he thought it due to a certain portion of the House with which he had voted, that their position 522 should be distinctly defined and fully understood. He did not join in the loud outcry raised by those who followed in the train of the learned Recorders of London and Dublin, and the hon. Member for the University of Oxford. Their standard bore a device too exclusive for him. Their line of march was separate and distinct. Its uniformity and consistency might be described in the words of Milton—Anon they moveIn perfect phalanx to the Dorian moodOf flutes and soft recorders; all the whileSonorous Oxford blowing martial sounds,On the other hand, he was opposed to this measure because he did not think it wise, as a general principle, to extend the system of religious endowment by the State. It had been talked of as a stroke of statesmanship — a term he much distrusted—sometimes ambiguous, sometimes pedantic, but which ought to mean (if it meant anything) the application of sound theory to substantial practice. In this instance it appeared to him that the Government had not acted practically. The last questions in which a Government ought to interpose were questions of opinion; and the last questions of opinion with which they should interfere were questions of theological opinion. He only remembered one instance of late years in which this interference had been attempted. It was in the celebrated Factory Education Bill of the right hon. Baronet. It succeeded only in kindling the odium theologicum; and it expired amid the conflagration which it created. He said that Governments should interfere in no questions of theology, either for their support or for their suppression. They should neither encourage by patronage, nor deter by persecution. The policy of the State should be that of a lofty spirit of neutrality on all such subjects. There was, indeed, a time at which such endowment as the Bill initiated—if it did not establish it—there was a time at which such endowment was practicable. Forty or fifty years ago, perhaps more recently, it was practicable; but since that time there had sprung up what seemed to him a more sacred principle in the minds of men—the voluntary support of their own religious opinions. We found this principle springing up, not only among isolated sects, but even in the bosom of Established Churches. We found the most moderate Established Church and the most powerful Established Church alike falling asunder on the voluntary principle. If moderation of endowment could hold a Church together, we should not have seen 523 the Free Church of Scotland sever itself from the parent establishment. If power and wealth could hold together an establishment, we should not have had Tractarianism flagrant at Oxford, or scattering the sparks of a spurious Catholicism throughout the length and breadth of the land. He maintained, therefore, that the times were changed; they were far different from those in which Mr. Pitt might have designed the establishment of a stipendiary priesthood for Ireland. They might attempt to revive his plan. But, be they Whigs or Tories, they would only raise its ghost. The substance was gone with the times in which it was engendered. But it was said, "We are not creating, we are only restoring. We endow no new establishment. This is only the restitution of an old one." A restitution! how did they restore? If they gave back to the Catholics that which the Irish Church had taken from them, that would indeed be a restitution. But, instead of giving back from the Irish Church, they took from the Consolidated Fund. Instead of withdrawing somewhat more from the superfluities of the Church, they wrung somewhat more from the necessities of the people. And this they called a restitution. It might, indeed, be a restitution; but it appeared to him to be only an Irish restitution. Then they justly asked him, what in such a case would you do? He answered, that he would not meddle with the theological doctrines of any Church or sect. The promulgation and vindication of those doctrines belonged not to them. The State ought neither to patronise religious opinions on the one hand, nor persecute for their exercise on the other. His doctrine would be to leave theology alone, but to throw open alike to Catholics and Protestants the existing educational establishments of Ireland. Throw open, but do not interfere. Begin by opening Trinity College, Dublin, to Catholics as entirely as to Protestants. End, if you can, in extending education generally; but first remove restrictions. Be generous, if you will, but begin by being just. He was afraid that, by endowing Maynooth, they had excited a deep theological feeling among the Protestants: by establishing new secular Colleges, however abstractedly desirable—and he certainly would give them his warm support—they would rouse a deep theological feeling among the Catholics. But he (Mr. Ewart) considered that it was not essential only to open the Irish educational institutions to the Catholics; it 524 was essential, also, because indubitably just, to circumscribe within its due limits the Irish Protestant Church. But by this measure they did not do so. On the contrary, this measure tended to maintain the Established Church of Ireland. They were about to pay the Catholic priesthood from the Consolidated Fund. They thereby bribed, as it were, into silence, the opposition to that gigantic abuse, the predominance of the Church of the minority in Ireland. They did a twofold injustice. They left the Irish Church unreformed, and they taxed the people to enable them to do so. It was a species of insurance of an existing abuse, of which the country was called upon to pay the premium. And now let him ask them a question. Did they intend to go further, or did they not? Did they intend to stand still on this incomplete measure, or did they intend to advance and boldly endow the Catholic priesthood of Ireland? The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) said he would. The right hon. Member (Mr. Macaulay) echoed the resolution of the noble Lord; the Secretary of State for the Home Department hinted that he would; the First Lord of the Treasury took refuge in mysterious silence, and wisely said nothing. If, on the one hand, you go no further, you have dissatisfied the Protestants, and you do not, by so small a boon, satisfy the Catholics. But, on the other hand, can you go further? Can you accomplish what you have begun, and engraft a general endowment on a partial grant? He might be wrong; but notwithstanding the support of the Whigs and Tories combined, he doubted if they could ever endow the Roman Catholic or any other Church. He believed the age of State endowments to be past. He believed a much nobler principle of religion to be replacing it—the principle which inspired the early preachers of Christianity—the principle of genuine religious freedom, which teaches each individual first deeply to feel the truth of his own religious creed, and then liberally and independently to support it.
§ Mr. Marsland
seconded the Motion. He did not wish to be considered as at all sanctioning the present position of the Established Church of Ireland, which being imposed by her powerful neighbour on an excitable and high-spirited people, was naturally regarded as a badge of degradation and servitude. It was not to increase, but to diminish, the number of Establishments, that he voted for the Motion of the hon. Member for Sheffield. He admitted, 525 with the warmest supporter of the Bill, that the Irish people had reason to complain—that the people were reduced to the lowest state of poverty—and that the priests were grossly slandered; but he thought the chief instruments in fanning the flame of animosity, now enkindled to such a degree as to endanger the connexion, should bear the penalties which national wrongs were always sure to inflict. He asked, did the aspect of ecclesiastical affairs in the three kingdoms justify the attempt to endow a new Church? Was the spirit of Christianity making that way in Ireland which it must inevitably do if not embarrassed by a connexion with the State? He believed it was admitted that the only feeling in common with Protestants and Roman Catholics was that of mutual hatred. So strong were religious feelings roused even in this country, that he was sure at the next general election, religion would be made a stalking horse for political adventurers; and all this arose from not laying the axe to the root of the evil—the Established Church. It had been said that the opposition of the Dissenters was founded on a mere Anti-Popery cry, because they had not objected to the Regium Donum, though they now protested so strongly against the grant to Maynooth. But he believed the great mass of the Dissenters were as strongly opposed to the grant of a Regium Donum to the Presbyterians, as they were to the increase in the sum given to Maynooth. Wishing to deny to his Roman Catholic fellow subjects no privilege which he claimed for himself, and believing that it was not desirable for their religion itself that it should be endowed by the State, he should vote against the third reading of this Bill.
§ The gallery was then cleared for a division, but none took place.
§ Mr. Ewart
said, that in justice to the principle which he was anxious to support, he could not consent to divide on that occasion. He should be satisfied with stating the grounds on which he should vote against the third reading of the Bill, though he dissented from the reasons of those with whom he should find himself associated.
§ Mr. Bankes
rose to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice—that instead of the Bill being now read a third time, it be read a third time that day six months; which was equivalent to moving, 526 that it be not read a third time at all. He should beg for the indulgence of the Speaker, and, under his sanction, for that of the House, in requesting permission to go back in some few particulars to previous portions of the debate which had taken place upon this subject when it was before the House in its previous stages; and as he had not before addressed the House upon it, nor even attempted to address the House—having given way to those Members who had risen in groups, to use the modern Parliamentary phrase, in order to explain the motives of their votes to their constituents — he trusted that the indulgence he asked for would be more readily accorded to him. For himself, he had no necessity of explaining his vote to his constituents: they were perfectly satisfied with the course which he thought it right to pursue. He attributed no merit to himself on account of the course he had pursued, nor did he attempt to cast censure on those who had adopted a different course. But he must observe that it had become at that period of the debate a very important circumstance for them to consider, not only the votes which had been given, but the circumstances under which they were recorded; and it was also important for them to consider whether the majority by which the present Bill was forwarded to its present stage, had been, or had not been, a majority representing the feelings of the nation. And, judging from the declarations of a very large proportion of the Members of that House, that they were voting against the wishes and feelings of the constituents they represented, could it be said that, so far as that debate was concerned, the House of Commons was, upon this question, a representative assembly? His right hon. Friend at the head of the Government could not deny that now, contrary to his first supposition, the feelings of the people of England and Scotland were opposed to the measure, far beyond even what his right hon. Friend anticipated would be the case. But, notwithstanding this feeling on the part of the people of this country, his right hon. Friend thought it was his duty to increase his energy, and to exert the power confided in his hands, as First Minister of the Crown, to the utmost, in order to carry the measure; and in proportion, as he stated, to the strong repugnance of the people of England did he feel himself called on to increase his energies. His right hon. Colleague 527 the Secretary of State for the Home Department carried his efforts still further; for, perceiving how the balance stood, he threw against the voice of the people, into that which was the lightest scale, the name, and weight, and popularity of the Sovereign, in order to carry the second reading, under circumstances which, he must be allowed to say, were somewhat questionable as regarded the privileges of that House and the principles of the Constitution. He was not there to enter into controversy with his right hon. Friend upon the principle of constitutional law. He admitted that his right hon. Friend had authorities and precedents for the course which he adopted; but the only authorities and precedents which he (Mr. Bankes) could remember, were authorities and precedents of his own making. For on another occasion the same course was adopted, and the name of the Sovereign was called in to turn the balance on a great question; but there was this difference in the two experiments, that in the former instance the name of the Sovereign was called in in aid of the people's wishes; while on the present occasion the Sovereign's name was used in an opposite direction. He might admit that the former experiment was the most dangerous to the Constitution, but the latter was the most injurious to the Crown. He did not wish to place this question in an inconvenient point of view, or to discuss how far the name of the Sovereign ought to be introduced; but when that course was pursued, he might be permitted to follow it so as to inquire how far the sanction of the Crown was given to this use of its authority, and under what circumstances the Crown had been induced to give its sanction to a measure so hostile to the feelings of the people. He hoped it was under misconception and misinformation that the Crown was induced to give this sanction; for, in that case, it would be a great relief to the pain he felt in being supposed that he was there opposing the declared will of the Sovereign; and it would also be a great relief to him to think that he might go on to consider this great question, without supposing that it was a question already decided and determined; and that they might discuss it, if not as a representative, at least as a deliberative assembly. He did not think that he was attributing anything wrong to his right hon. Friend in saying, that there were misrepresentations in the information conveyed 528 to the Crown; for he would do his right hon. Friends the justice to believe that the representation and information conveyed by them to the Sovereign were the same that had been conveyed to this House; and he thought he would be able to satisfy those who attended to him that, in regard to the important question before them, his right hon. Friends themselves had been misinformed, and entertained notions that were not entirely founded on fact. In regard to some important particulars he believed they were deceived; and, judging from what had fallen from the Prime Minister, he believed they were deceived even now as to the feelings of the people—that they had no idea of the repugnance justly felt by the people of England and of Scotland to this measure. He believed that, with regard to the people of Ireland, they were as much deceived with respect to the gladness it would give one portion of the people there, as they were with regard to the feelings entertained upon it in this country. He gave them credit for their good intentions, and their desire to confer a boon on the United Empire. But they were mistaken; and if they passed the measure, they would give but little satisfaction to the one portion of the Empire; and he could hardly find language to express the dissatisfaction which it would occasion in every other portion of it. Nor was this feeling of hostility to the measure confined to a few; it was general through England and Scotland. It was a misapprehension of his right hon. Friend to suppose that the Dissenters were the only portion of the Protestant inhabitants of England and Scotland who were opposed to the measure. It was true that they exhibited the greatest zeal—that they came forward with the most numerous petitions; and the Minister supposed that this was but a passing whirlwind, which would die away with its own violence. But it was not in the whirlwind or the tempest, but in the "still small voice" that was heard from one end of the Empire to the other, that the real opposition to the measure was to be found. And if that voice of the members of the Established Church of England was small, it was because they thought they might place confidence in that House. It was not because they were comparatively quiescent that they should be considered indifferent. They did not approach that House in a large and congregated body as the clergy of the land; in the numerous petitions from almost every parish in the county which 529 he represented, the name of the pastor was found enrolled with that of his flock; and it was thus that, in his opinion, it came before them entitled to the greatest weight and to the chiefest influence. Let it not then be urged against the clergy that they were indifferent because they were not clamorous. Why, in the papers of to-day there was a petition from the clergy of a large district of Ireland, who expressed those sentiments in words which he would beg leave to read to the House. This was a petition forwarded to the Bishop of Cashel and Waterford. They say—We, the undersigned clergy of your Lordship's diocese, feel it incumbent on us to make your Lordship acquainted with our feelings in reference to the Maynooth Bill, as it seems it has been said that great indifference exists in Ireland on the subject. We, therefore, desire to disabuse the public mind of such an impression, at least as far as regards ourselves.They went on to give their reasons for disapproving of the Bill. One reason which they gave was this:—We believe it calculated to encourage and render permanent the teaching of what we believe to be erroneous and antiscriptural.They then go on to say—Many considerations hitherto prevented us from taking an active part in opposition to the proposed grant; but, finding that our forbearance is mistaken, and our silence misrepresented, we cannot any longer consent to withhold the expression of our sentiments.Such was the opinion which had been drawn from those clergymen, because their silence was misconstrued—a silence which their confidence in the guardianship of this House had induced them to observe. [Sir J. Graham: How many signed it?] Why, there were several. [Sir J. Graham: Only thirteen.] Oh, more than that; and those who signed it seemed to be of the highest respectability and standing in the Church. [Sir W. Barron: There are but nine signatures out of one hundred and sixty clergymen.] The number that signed would no doubt have been much larger, but that the same feeling which induced those so long to refrain from declaring themselves, still operated upon others; and nothing ought to be inferred from their silence. He admitted, however, that the more active opposition to the measure was from the Dissenting body; and his right hon. Friend would not deny that they were a respectable body, and that their petitions ought to be received with respect, and attended 530 to, even if the prayer of them was to be denied. Yet in that House, and in the course of that debate, those persons had been called fanatical insurgents by a right hon. and learned Gentleman, whose talents and genius outran his judgment—the right hon. Member for Dungarvon. He was not so much afraid of the right hon. Member's invectives, sharp and cuttting though they might be, as to apprehend being called, as his hon. Friend near him, the Member for the University of Oxford (Sir H. Inglis), had been styled, the representative of the English Dissenters. On the contrary, he was glad to have an opportunity of concurring in opinion with that body in the prayer of most of the petitions which they presented to that House. They knew he never sought any favours or votes from them by compromising his own opinions; and he, therefore, felt it a compliment and an honour that they had entrusted him with so many petitions on the present occasion. He did not believe that they wished the destruction of the Established Church; but if (as many of them no doubt did) they wished to see the emoluments of that Church curtailed or subjected to a different arrangement, let it not be supposed on that account that they were willing to acquiesce in the application which it was proposed to make of them, even supposing such an application of them were sanctioned by Parliament. It was not to endow a Church which they could reverence as little as the Church established in this country, that the Dissenters of all denominations would wish to effect such a change as he had referred to. When Notice was first given of the Maynooth grant, the hon. Member for Sheffield, very fairly and properly, put on the Paper a Notice that he would move that the funds should be supplied out of the revenues of the Irish Protestant Church. That brought the question fairly before them. It was an open and unquestionable mode of ascertaining the prevalent opinion on the subject. It gave to the Dissenters of England an opportunity of expressing their views. Some of the Dissenters, undoubtedly, were determined to respect the property of the Church; but others of them might have said the question was, whether or not they should change the property from the hands of a Church of which they were not members, to a Church of which they were likewise not members, but to which the majority of the people of Ireland belonged. It was singular that the hon. Member did not 531 afford them the opportunity of expressing their opinions on this particular and most practical view of the question, but that he should have deserted the course he originally intended to take. It appeared that when the hon. Member had reason to think that his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford meant to meet him in a fair field, and to decide the question whether the Irish Church was to be spoliated or not, the hon. Member for Sheffield thought it prudent to consult the heads of the party with whom he generally voted; but they could not give him any encouragement, or any satisfactory counsel to assist him out of his dilemma. The hon. Member, it was said, then consulted the Cabinet of the opposite side of the House; but with no better success. He then consulted the hon. Member for Montrose, who was a sort of Nestor in the House: everybody in trouble seemed to consult him; and in this instance he told the hon. Member for Sheffield he had nothing to do but to run away—that confusion would be the inevitable consequence of the Motion of which he had given notice; for that, if he had succeeded in it, the Government never could carry the second reading of the Maynooth Bill, since the final result of the measure could then be made apparent to those who now thought fit to shut their eyes against that prospect. The hon. Member, upon that advice, withdrew his Notice; but he could tell the hon. Member that he had not as yet altogether escaped from his difficulty. The hon. Member was generally very profuse in his observations on hon. Members at the Ministerial side of the House who withdrew Motions, and made, as he used to designate them, sham fights. In future, such attacks could not very consistently come from the hon. Member for Sheffield, after his conduct in this instance; at all events, if he should venture to make them, he must expect to be encountered with arrows from his own quiver. The grounds upon which this Bill should be rejected were now better understood than perhaps they were at the earlier stages of the measure; and it was therefore probable that, on the third reading, some of those hon. Members at his side of the House who had voted for the second reading would think better of it, and that those who had opposed it would on this occasion be more numerous and in better company. He was happy to vote against this Bill in company with those to whom he was generally opposed, although 532 the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department had chosen to indulge in some merriment at the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, voting in conjunction with the hon. Member for Durham. He had voted also with hon. Members opposite against this Bill, and he did not find himself contaminated by them, and he believed they were not infected by him. He concurred with them not only in the purport of this vote, but in some of the motives, and in many of the arguments, on which they rested their opposition to this measure. He did not concur in all those arguments. He did not, for instance, concur with the hon. Member for Durham, when he stated, that all the freedom and civil liberty which this country enjoyed they owed to the conventicle. That was not his opinion. But he was ready to confess that to the resolution, firmness, and perseverance of the Dissenters, civil liberty was much indebted, though these qualities were not always exercised with discretion. In the reign of the unhappy Charles, they persevered in the pursuit of their object with zeal but without prudence, and thus not only failed themselves, but prevented others, who perhaps might at that time have succeeded otherwise, and postponed the dawn of our civil and religious liberty until a later period of that century. That the Dissenters had largely contributed to promote the civil liberty enjoyed in England, he conceded and declared; but who were they who headed the happy effort which was crowned with final success? The seven Bishops, who were called the "fanatical insurgents" of their day; and when these meek and reverend prisoners were taken from the hall which adjoins this chamber, and borne along the tide in bondage to the Tower, the shores of this river were on each side crowded with the whole population of the capital; Churchmen and Dissenters in one crowded mass together, cheering them with prayers and acclamations; those as the pastors of their faith, and all as the champions of their freedom. Thus now should Churchmen and Dissenters unite in the cause which was equally dear to both; and happy was that example to which he had adverted, when the Churchmen, taking the lead, had marked out a safe and successful course for all. There was something like the crisis of which he had been speaking, at the present time. When these "fanatical insurgents," the seven Bishops, were acquitted, the shouts of the army at the 533 event attracted the notice of the King, who asked what it was. Some of the courtiers answered that it was nothing—it was only the army shouting for the acquittal of the Bishops. "Do you call that nothing?" said the King; and he would now ask Her Majesty's Government did they call it nothing when, evening after evening, the Table of the House groaned with petitions against the present Bill to such an extent, that the eloquent Member for Edinburgh compared their appearance to that of a snow storm in his native country? This was an extent of opposition which he was induced to believe Ministers were not prepared for when they asked the sanction of the Sovereign for this measure, and used Her name in its support. But if Miaisters had fallen into a mistake with respect to England and Scotland, how were their expectations realized with regard to Ireland? The Prime Minister had told them that he had sent "a messenger of peace to Ireland." Had the messenger come back with an olive branch to tell that the tempest had subsided, and that there was one spot from which the waters of sectarian bitterness had receded, on which the foot of the Sovereign could be set? How had the measure been received? What had been its effect on that portion of the clergy whom it was designed to conciliate? They had seen the publication by some of these clergy, of letters which it would be painful to read in that House, and which letters were utterly unprovoked by the tone of their debates, or the wording of the petitions which were presented in opposition to the measure, though he admitted there were in some of the petitions words which he could wish had been omitted—he meant the words which were used in reference to the Catholic religion. But these words were introduced by the Whigs in the Statutes of William III.; and if any hon. Member brought forward a Motion to the effect of expunging expressions that were repugnant to the feelings, whether of many or of few, he would not be found to oppose him; but as long as they remained on their Statute Book they should not blame those who copied them. They were not adopted in the petitions with the design of insulting; and he could certainly say that those which had been prepared and confided to his hands or presentation had had no such intention. He confessed that it would add to the pain he felt at the success of this Bill to find that it would not produce the effect intended. 534 If it did not conciliate in Ireland—and he gave the supporters of the Bill every credit for a sincere desire to promote the conciliation of that country—how heavily would the failure in the object be aggravated by the repugnance entertained against the measure by the great body of the Irish Protestant people! Many hon. Members who had supported the Bill gave it a reluctant assent, because they thought they would rid themselves of the unpleasant discussion which arose upon the Maynooth grant. In their expectation in that respect he undertook to say they would be disappointed. The Maynooth question was becoming every year of less importance. It was a question almost worn out; but in lieu of that annual question they would now incur the certainty of having one brought forward by the hon. Member for Sheffield, or some other hon. Member, to obtain the payment of the funds for the Maynooth establishment out of the revenues of the Irish Established Church. They had changed it to that question. He was certain that hon. Members who would vote for the third reading of the Bill on the grounds of the convenience of getting rid of an annual discussion, would find that it would only produce the unhappy effect of substituting the much more painful and much more dangerous question, that the funds should be supplied in a way which he believed they or the House at large would not be prepared to sanction. The Irish Members, supposed to be most interested in this measure, had met the question with a candour and honour which he should say was characteristic of their nation. They certainly could not hereafter be charged with having misled the supporters of the Bill. They plainly told them what the end must be, since they had made a beginning. The hon. Baronet the Member for Waterford voted against the Motion of the Member for Sheffield, and voted with the Minister, from a feeling of gratitude to him; but when expressing his gratitude, he said that so long as the grant was made, it was a matter of indifference to him where the money came from; but if it were their fancy to preserve the Irish Protestant Church, they must pay for it. That was what the Irish Members plainly told them. If they gave that vote, and choose to keep the Irish Protestant Church, they must pay for it. This was a matter which it would be well hon. Members should consider before they gave a vote which admitted another 535 and a new principle, and one most foreign to the Constitution. In the course of this debate, it was remarkable how little they had heard of the original establishment of Maynooth. The public documents referring to it were very brief. The speeches in the Irish Parliament were equally so, and the message of the Lord Lieutenant consisted only of a few lines. They were, indeed, left by those who introduced this Bill with very little information on the subject. It was thought sufficient to say that the measure met with little or no opposition when first introduced, and that afterwards it had been renewed by annual votes regularly, with only one exception. Now this statement was true, but it was far from being the whole truth, and that one exception had never been explained. He had met with a publication issued at the period of the Union, and the authority of which he was sure would not be disputed. It was one of the publications meant to forward the Union, and was the production of a gentleman who was a Member of the Irish Parliament at the time, and was subsequently a Member of that House. He was Member for the city of Armagh.—[An hon. Member: Name him.] Dr. Duigenan. He was a Protestant, and no doubt a stanch Protestant, and he admitted, if they would, a partisan; but he believed in every respect an honourable man. He held for a considerable period a prominent position in that House, and was esteemed a person of strict veracity. He issued this publication in 1799, when all the parties concerned were alive, and it was not reasonable to suppose that in that case he would have put forward a fabrication respecting a transaction which had taken place only four years before. The hon. Member then read the following extract of a work published by that gentleman in 1799:—In the Session of the Irish Parliament of the year 1795, a Bill was introduced by the Secretary into the House of Commons, entitled 'An Act for the better Education of Persons professing the Popish or Roman Catholic Religion.' This Act empowered certain trustees therein named, to receive donations for establishing and endowing an academy for the education of persons professing the Roman Catholic Religion, and to acquire lands exempt from forfeiture by mortmain, not exceeding the yearly value of 1,000l.; and a clause was introduced at the end of it for giving those trustees the sum of 8,000l. out of the public money as an aid to the undertaking. This Bill passed through the House, and was enacted 536 into a law without opposition, and with little notice or discussion. No Member of either House thought it a matter of sufficient importance to warrant an opposition, supposing the Romanists were to complete the business at their own costs, and that Parliament would hear no more of it. The projectors of this scheme of a Romish seminary, however, were determined not to let the Irish Parliament off on such cheap terms; the English Secretary procured the payment to the trustees of large sums of money out of the public purse, amounting in the whole to near 40,000l. In every subsequent Session a regular charge of 8,000l. was made to Parliament for its annual support. The magnitude of this sum for such a purpose startled some of the Members of both Houses, and regular accounts and items of the establishment and expenditure were called for; and it appeared, in the Session of 1798, that not one penny had ever been received by the trustees from any Romanist as a donation; that the establishment was for the exclusive education of 200 students in divinity only, as a source to furnish a perpetual supply of 2,000 Romish priests to the kingdom—that each of those students was to be entertained in the seminary for four years, and then priested and sent abroad as an officiating clergyman—that the annual sum of 8,000l. was required for the maintenance of them and their teachers; that is, these 200 students were to be educated at an annual expense of 40l. per head to the nation—that none of the Romish laity were to be admitted as students at this seminary, which is neither more nor less than a Romish monastery erected and to be supported by the Irish Protestant Parliament, for the sapient purpose of training a perpetual body of 2,000 missionaries, to be dispersed through the nation to propagate systematic doctrinal disaffection to the established Government in Church and State. Many Members of both Houses expressed their dislike of this institution; they did not fail to state to the Minister that Parliament had been led, by great cunning and address, into an acquiescence with the measure in its infancy — that the Bill did not warrant so dangerous an innovation — that it only empowed Irish Romanists to found a seminary at their own expense for the education of their youth in general; yet this was a seminary founded and to be supported at the expense of the nation for the exclusive education of the Romish priests; that it was evident the Romish laity did not desire nor want such a seminary, for they never had subscribed a shilling to its support. They could not comprehend the public utility of educating Romish youth destined for the ministry in different schools from the lay youth of that persuasion; they knew it to be an old policy in the Court of Rome to separate the clergy from the laity in all concerns relating to private life as much as possible; that it might attach the clergy in all countries to its own particular interests; but they could not comprehend the necessity 537 of their supporting such a political system. The Minister was very hard pushed in the year 1798 in carrying the grant of 8,000l. to this monastery through the House; many of his most attached friends deserted and left the House during the debate. He was obliged to send out his emissaries to rally his scattered troops, and he carried it at last by a reluctant majority in a very thin House, few more than forty Members being present. In the last Session of the Irish Parliament the new Minister introduced a Bill in the House of Commons for a grant of something less than 8,000l. to this monastery. It passed the House and went up to the Lords, where it was thrown out. It appeared on this occasion that sixty-nine students only, instead of 200, were maintained in the House, notwithstanding the charge for the support of the full number was but very little diminished. It was currently reported, and very generally believed, that about thirty-six Romish students from this monastery had, on the breaking out of the rebellion, joined the insurgents, and fought at Kilcock and other places against the King's troops; certain it is, that sixteen or seventeen have been expelled from it on account of the rebellion.He did not wish to press that part of the subject, as he was disposed to take into consideration the general state of Ireland in 1798. But he would take the opportunity of alluding to the remark of the right hon. and learned Member for Dungarvon, who stated the other night that if the Catholic clergy and students had been engaged in the rebellion of 1798, those engaged in it from Protestant colleges were both more numerous and more determined. That assertion was not borne out by the statement which he (Mr. Bankes) was then reading. At the same period seventeen students of Trinity College were implicated in a similar accusation. If the merits of the students on the one side were to be compared with those of the other, the balance would not—as was argued by an hon. Member a few nights ago—be in favour of Maynooth, but quite the contrary. For of 700 students, only seventeen were expelled Trinity College on that charge, and of those all, excepting four, were Roman Catholics; while out of sixty or seventy students at Maynooth, thirty-six were implicated. He thought the authority which he had quoted would hardly be disputed; the publication was entitled A General View of the State of Ireland; it was written, as he had already stated, with the intention of forwarding the Union; it was by no means a controversial publication; and the origin and condition of Maynooth were accidentally noticed as a part of the complete 538 view of the state of Ireland. The Bill for establishing Maynooth was proposed for the purpose of repealing a disability under which the Roman Catholics laboured. In the then state of the law the endowment of such an institution would be subject to immediate forfeiture, and the party endowing would be subject to the penal acts then in force. This Bill removed those disabilities, and added a clause which gave 8,000l. as a donation for starting the project; this donation being granted by a clause in the Bill which was expressly and purposely separated from those parts of the Bill which contained any terms of permission for endowment. This project thus authorized and encouraged had signally failed; for it appeared that, during the remaining five years of the Irish Parliament's existence, one shilling had not been contributed towards the support of the institution by the Roman Catholics. The Dunboyne grant was made at a later period, and this was the gift of a Protestant. It was a mistake, then, to suppose that there was nothing new in principle in the Bill before the House. The College of Maynooth was originally intended to be a general college for Romanists, lay and clerical; but it had been since exclusively used for the education of Roman Catholic priests. It had been stated by an hon. Member that it was the universal practice in all Roman Catholic countries to educate those intended for the priesthood in colleges of this exclusive character. He had heard that statement with surprise. He was aware that at Rome, and in Spain, during the existence of the Inquisition, that course had been pursued; but he hardly believed that any hon. Member would assert that that practice obtained in Germany, Prussia, or France, or that the wise King who sits on the throne of the latter country would permit it. Belgium in particular had been mentioned; but the circumstances in which that country was placed were not of sufficiently long date to enable us to form any decided opinion as to the results of such a system; and the mention of Belgium brought to his recollection some very particular circumstances. Previous to the passing of the Relief Bill, the argument that had the most weight was one urged in a pamphlet written by an hon. Friend of his (Mr. Bankes), now a Member of that House. We were told to look at the happy union existing between Belgium and Holland:—I have seen (said the writer of that pamphlet), the deliberations of their national assembly, 539 where Protestants and Catholics mix together, and canvass the interests of that united kingdom without difficulty, under the happy auspices of a Protestant king.Much more to the same effect was contained in that publication. That argument was used in the House of Commons, also in the House of Lords, and had great weight. It assisted materially in carrying the Relief Bill. But what was the result of that "happy union?" The measure passed in the spring of 1829, and in the autumn of 1830, Holland and Belgium were separated. He should, therefore, pause before he allowed himself to be influenced by any argument founded upon the practice as prevailing in Belgium. He saw now a Protestant king on the throne of that country; but who could say that he would have a Protestant successor, if seminaries of this kind were allowed to fetter the minds of the priesthood? Roman Catholic priests brought up in this unnatural state of social seclusion would have no sympathy with the liberal principles of the present age—their minds would be fettered with notions belonging to the time when monastic institutions prevailed. Restitution had been spoken of by a noble Lord, and the Universities had been alluded to as the source from which that restitution should be made. But he would venture to ask, if restitution were to be made, could it in any spirit of justice be applied to monastic institutions of this kind? Did not history show that all the great disturbances that arose in the early period of our monarchy occurred between the different classes of the Roman Catholic clergy themselves? between those who were in favour of those exclusive institutions, and those who were against them? Undoubtedly, those who were in favour of that exclusive system were wise in their generation; for had it been uniformly acted upon, the dawn of civil and religious freedom would have been postponed to a much later period. If Oxford University had been formed on this exclusive principle, would a Wickliffe ever have been found within its walls? The same might be said of foreign Universities. Luther would not have found a seat in a professor's chair, nor pupils to listen to his doctrines, if all those educated for the Romish priesthood in Germany had been educated on this exclusive system. It might be wisdom on the part of those who desired to exclude the possibility of further reformation, to take warning by what had passed 540 in those Universities that were more liberally founded; but was it wise, just, or national, to call on the people of England to pay for the support of a system calculated to prevent the possibility of further reform? But this was the tendency of the present Bill. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government said he had given warning in the course of last Session of his intention to improve Maynooth. Improve Maynooth! Was this Bill to be considered as an improvement? Even the partial visitation which before existed was to be entirely done away with by the present measure. The institution was now to be connected with the State merely by the sum to be granted, but everything like control over the institution was disavowed. In the work he (Mr. Bankes) had referred to, it was stated that the original allowance to the students at Maynooth was 40l. a year for each of 200 students. It was now said that the institution was a disgrace to the nation by being overcrowded with a surplus number of students. But whose fault was that? The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government asked more than once could the nation permit itself to be reproached with having in connexion with it an institution so overcrowded? But if double the number of students, which the law intended were introduced into the institution, was Parliament to blame for that? Was Parliament to blame if the rooms were overcrowded, and if those violations of the ordinary forms of decorum which were complained of existed? The right hon. Gentleman said more than once that rather than this state of things should continue, he would infinitely prefer the withholding the grant altogether. He (Mr. Bankes) could only regret that his right hon. Friend, connected as he had been with Ireland for so long a period, did not at an earlier opportunity propose the abolition of the grant; and he would no doubt have been supported in such a proposition by many Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House. But if he thought the sum voted inadequate, it was unfortunate that, during the nine years he was in opposition, he did not propose to Gentlemen on the other side to double it, for there could be no doubt of their willingness to support such a Motion. And it would have been a less mischievous proposition to have doubled the sum granted on the same principle on which it was then given, than to have brought forward this measure, which 541 was so adverse to the principles of the Constitution. The hon. Member for Newark said, "I cannot but observe, with reference to this debate, that no Member who has yet spoken has measured the real breadth or height of this question." That observation was perfectly correct. The breadth of the question exceeded all the endowments of the Irish Protestant Church, and the altitude of it was far higher than our cathedal spires—it reached above the Throne itself. If the principle involved in this measure were carried out, who, having voted for the measure, could—as the right hon. Member for Newark observed—resist, on any religious principle, the endowment of the Roman Catholic priesthood? Who would tell him that the day might not come when they would not be able to resist the advent of a Catholic successor to the Throne? He must not be answered that he was conjuring up idle fancies. What had they not all witnessed within the last year? One of their own Colleagues, a Member of that House, openly becoming a convert to the Roman Catholic Church, and honourably, he must admit, resigning his seat there in consequence of his change. Who would tell him that his fears with respect to the Throne were idle? He believed that an hon. Member near him had said truly, that every safeguard against Romanism would be removed when the Bill became law. If the Legislature was prepared to abandon the principles upon which they had hitherto acted—principles which formerly were asserted to be the same upon which the Throne was based, let that be declared, and do not let them be undermined and destroyed by such a measure as the present. Let the House not abandon in such a manner all that their forefathers regarded as vital to the Constitution of the State. If that Constitution were to be destroyed, let it be deliberately, openly, advisedly dealt with; let the full extent and breadth and height of the changes that were proposed be stated and discussed. Now, the moment for giving their last vote upon the measure had arrived, he must tell the right hon. Baronet, that if he beat his opponents, as he most probably would—although he might beat them in that House, he would not do so in so far as regarded the country. It was said after the battle of the Boyne, and when the kingdom was lost and won, and whilst the victors and the vanquished were lying indiscriminately mingled together on the field 542 of victory, or, to use the beautiful words of a modern poet,—When thousands had sunk to the ground overpowered,The wearied to rest and the wounded to die—the brave Irish cried out to their English victors, "Change kings and we'll fight the battle over again." So likewise would he now say to the right hon. Baronet, "Change the Parliament, and we will fight you over again." We do not desire to change kings, for you have both the kings, you have the black as well as the white king on the board, for your coalition has given you that advantage over us. But we tell you to change the Parliament if you dare, and we will give you checkmate with the pawns in a week. And, moreover, I take this opportunity of telling my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who was so strenuous an advocate for the Reform Bill, that he was either wrong in the course which he took then, or he is wrong in that which he now pursues. He was wrong in dissolving the Parliament, and in appealing to the country upon the question of Reform, unless he take precisely the same course with respect to the measure now before the House. I tell him that the people will so interpret his present proceeding. And to the right hon. Baronet, lastly—since beseeching is of no avail—I now say, that here in his place, and in the name of the people, I defy him to dissolve the Parliament. I beg to move, Sir, as an Amendment, that this Bill be read a third time this day six months.
§ Mr. M'Geachy
Mr. Speaker—Sir, having in vain attempted, in the earlier stages of this protracted debate, to catch your eye, I had at one period of these discussions determined to abandon my intention of addressing the House upon this question. But the character which the opposition to this measure has now assumed, the construction which has been placed upon the support given to the Government by some Members of their party, and the excitement of the popular feeling upon this subject, have determined me to place before the House, as concisely, and as distinctly as I can, the grounds on which I rest the vote which I shall give in favour of the third reading of this Bill. Sir, no man can accuse me of a servile acquiescence in the measures of Her Majesty's Government. Where I have honestly differed from that Government 543 in opinion; and it has been my misfortune, on more than one important occasion, so to differ; I have never shrunk from avowing that opinion, and have proved my sincerity by my vote. I feel, therefore, more especially bound on the present occasion, cordially concurring, as I do, in the principles on which this measure is based, to give to the Government an open and an unflinching support, when, by adopting a course which I believe to be just and right, they are exposing themselves to great, and as it appears to me most undeserved, misrepresentation and obloquy. Sir, there are two words which I would gladly see banished from the English language, if by so doing we could also banish the policy they represent—those two words are "conciliation," and "concession;"—words which, I in my conscience believe, are at the root of half the evil of our government of Ireland,—Hoc fonte derivata clades,In patriam, populumque fluxit;and it is because this measure is brought forward as an act of justice, and not as a concession to intimidation, that I regard it with the greater satisfaction; and that I hail it as the commencement of a larger, a more comprehensive, a more statesmanlike, and, let me add, a more Christian policy with reference to the administration of affairs in Ireland. I say, a more Christian policy—and I use the term advisedly, because, after all that has been said upon this subject, it is the religious objections, felt towards this measure by a large number of the people of England, which constitute our greatest difficulty; and to those objections, where they are honestly entertained, I am prepared to give their full weight: but I would not consent to sit in this House for one moment, if I am to be guided in the votes which I shall give, otherwise than by my own conscientious convictions. Those convictions, after the best consideration that I have been able to give to the subject, are entirely in favour of this Bill, as a measure of sound policy, and of tardy justice, and I therefore feel bound to support it. Sir, it is as a Protestant, and as a member of the Church of England, that I support this grant; not as having any leaning towards Rome—not as having any sympathy with those who say anathema to the principle of Protestantism; and who, by training their minds in what we 544 were wont to deem an anti-English casuistry, run, as it appears to me, no small risk of losing the very faculty of apprehending truth. I have no sympathy with these; nay, I am ready to make any sacrifice to maintain the honest Protestantism of the people of England; but I do not see why that is a reason for rejecting the claims—the just claims as I deem them—of our fellow countrymen, and fellow Christians, who adhere to the doctrines of Roman Catholicism in Ireland. The religious objection, on the part of a member of the Church of England, to the grant to Maynooth, can only rest upon the assumption that Roman Catholics are not Christians. That is really the base of the argument. With the opinions of the various sects which unhappily divide this country, I have nothing to do. But this I know, that the Church of England, to which I belong, does recognise the Church of Rome as a Christian Church, and she is acknowledged as such in her Articles. The Roman Catholics are, therefore, Christians; erring, according to the Church of England, yet Christians, and therefore entitled to our sympathy. If their errors, though most serious, be not fatal, then surely the greater question of their Christianity comes in; and as was justly said by one of the ablest and most eloquent of their advocates in years gone by—"Surely their merits as Christians may well outweigh, in our eyes, their demerits as Catholics." But, does the Church of England confine herself to a mere theoretical recognition of their Christianity in her Articles? Does she give no practical proof of the reality of her belief? Are hon. Gentlemen who oppose this grant actually ignorant of the fact, that the Church of England admits her baptism—nay, that she goes farther, and admits her orders, so that an ordained minister of the Church of Rome is admitted without re-ordination into the ministry of the English Church. In talking over this question recently with a gentleman of great ability, an intimate friend of mine, and a minister of the Established Church, but strongly opposed to the present measure, in answer to a remark, that in legislating for Ireland we ought not to forget that we were legislating, speaking generally, for a Roman Catholic country; he observed,—"True, you may remember in legislating for Ireland, that you are legislating for a Roman Catholic country, just as in legislating for British 545 India, I presume you would not forget that you were legislating for a heathen country, and yet I do not find you proposing to pay the priests of Juggernaut." Now, this is just the point to which I should wish to bring the issue of this question; and I would avail myself of this opportunity, most emphatically to declare my conviction, that this is not a question of religion, as between Christian and Hindoo, but a question of justice as between two great branches of the Christian family. The question is not simply one as to the propagation of error, but as to the exercise of religion. There stands the fact, mislike it as we may, that seven millions of the Queen's subjects in Ireland adhere to the Roman Catholic faith — a faith endeared to them by centuries of ruthless persecution. The other fact — that the country is territorially Protestant (to say nothing of the mode in which it came to pass that it is so), only adds, in my judgment, to the force of the argument in favour of this endowment of Maynooth. We have, therefore, to make our choice between these two courses. We may choose irreligion; the leaving the great bulk of the population without any religious provision, as far as the State is concerned. We may choose to have the religious rites of the Roman Catholic Church ill performed, through the ignorance of the priests; we may foster and promote an utter want of sympathy between Christians. On the other hand, we may, by an enlarged and improved system of education, raise the priests in the estimation of the people, and give a general stimulus, through their means, to education throughout the land. We may thus, also, give a stimulus to the Protestants of Ireland, and excite them to a generous rivalry. And when you consider how changed is the condition of the Protestant Church in Ireland, since it has ceased to rest for its support upon the now broken reed of Protestant ascendancy—there surely will appear to be some force in this argument; and if we really believe that "magna est veritas et prævalebit," that truth must ultimately prevail; is Protestantism, the offspring of free inquiry, to lose by increased light? and are we, as Protestants, to shrink from placing the Roman Catholic priesthood and laity of Ireland in a better position—to judge of the truth and purity of the doctrines we profess? I well know that this is an argument 546 which is treated with something akin to contempt by those who think that there is a prima facie case against Protestantism; and that it is but a religion of negatives. Be that as it may, I am well convinced, that any form of religion must lose by being identified with injustice and oppression; and that Russia is just as likely to make converts to the Greek Church in Poland, as England would be to advance the cause of Protestantism in Ireland by adopting the policy which the opponents of this measure would recommend; and which, if they had the power, as they have the will, they would force upon the Government. But there is another objection advanced against this line of argument, which is this. It is said, "If the Roman Catholic religion is to be thus endowed in Ireland, then all sects must be supported." Now I do not see that this necessarily follows; unless, indeed, we sit here to form graceful theories, and to draw political parallelograms, and not for the purposes of practical legislation and good government. It cannot be denied that the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland does stand on very peculiar ground; and although I am perfectly prepared to maintain the right of the State to constitute one form of religion supreme, professing it itself; I think any reasonable man must allow that the number of Roman Catholics in Ireland, the numerical proportion they bear to the rest of the population, does give them very strong claims upon the favourable consideration of Parliament. But in dealing with a great question of State policy like this, it is our bounden duty not to forget the past. We must not forget what has been our treatment of Ireland. I will say nothing of restitution; as that accidental phrase of a noble Lord, a Member of this House, appears to have given offence to England, both young and old: but I will say thus much, that in dealing with Ireland you must remember, that we have not only to do justice, but to repair injustice. We have no right to forget the penal laws and the state of the country consequent upon their enactment; we have no right to forget that the ignorance of the Irish people is not the result of natural causes. No! for the first time in the history of the world it has been the direct consequence of legislative enactment. It cannot be too often impressed upon the public mind 547 in this country, that the state of Ireland, dangerous as it is, is but the necessary consequence of a tyrannical and monstrous system of Government. We are too apt in this country to look upon Ireland as an original sin—a curse—a land in which crime, and ignorance, and evil passions, spring up, selfsown, in wild luxuriance, and in a congenial soil. Let it never be forgotten, for it is a solemn truth, pregnant with instruction to statesmen and to nations, that we only reap as we have sown; that we only gather in that crop which our forefathers planted, which they watered in each successive reign with jealous care, and which has sprung up for the present generation in a plenteous harvest of difficulty and danger. A nation cannot be politically without being morally enslaved; and never did effect follow cause in more logical or more disgraceful sequence, than did the barbarism of Ireland the course of British legislation. I shall not weary the House by entering at large into a review of those acts which under successive Sovereigns ensured these fatal results; but in reference to the intolerance which has been displayed out of this House on the subject of the present measure, it may be useful to point out some few remarks of an able writer upon the period of the Commonwealth.The cruelty with which Cromwell," he observes, "put down the rebellion was no vice of the times. No, 'twas the outbreak of that uncharitable fury of men who think it a great argument of the truth of their religion, to endure no other but their own.Men, in fact, who first assume their opponents to be Amalekites, and then find Scripture warrant for crying out "Down with the Amalekites," and for destroying them root and branch. Speaking of the same period, this writer further observes—Not only was the alternative of Hell or Connaught offered by the Puritan conquerors to the Irish Catholics, but the harsh statutes of Elizabeth, which ordered their priests to be hung, drawn, and quartered, were repro-claimed, and strictly acted upon. They set the price of five pounds on the head of a priest and a wolf, and the production of the head equally entitled the beheader to the reward. The exercise of their religion, even in private, or the concealment of a priest, was punished with death.Now, Sir, I know of no such tyranny in history; and I maintain that you cannot treat this as an abstract question. If the 548 Irish peasantry are ignorant, bigoted, superstitious, and revengeful, who made them so? Whether you like the doctrine of restitution or not, are you to do nothing to repair these great and manifold injustices? Do you object even to reparation? On the Restoration, Roman Catholics were excluded from both Houses of Parliament in Ireland; yet the able and enlightened Ormonde, by a slight relaxation of the Penal Laws, kept Ireland quiet; while England, where the Catholics were but as seven to a hundred Protestants, was kept in constant terror by Popish plots—"a convincing proof," as has been well observed "that the internal peace of a State depends much more upon the prudent conduct of its governors, than upon the suppressing by extreme rigour the preponderance of any religious opinions, how opposite so ever they may be to those established by the law of the land." After the Revolution of 1688, in direct violation of the Treaty of Limerick, passed those Acts depriving the Catholics of all means of educating their children either at home or abroad, of the right of keeping school, or instructing youth, even in private houses, of which Burke has remarked—"I have ever thought the prohibition of the means of improving our rational nature, to be the worst species of tyranny that the insolence and perverseness of mankind ever dared to exercise." In the next reign passed those Acts which Burke denounced, with equal justice, as "the ferocious Acts of Anne," by which special care was taken to ensure still further the ignorance of the rising generation, already, one might have thought, sufficiently provided for by the existing statutes. Roman Catholic priests were precluded from teaching the people their duty to God and their neighbour, by a statute which forbids them, even in the most extensive parishes, "to employ any curate, assistant, or coadjutor;" and lest love for their country, and for the honour of God, should tempt any to violate this law, and to give instruction to the poor, it was again enacted, "that Papists teaching school publicly, instructing in a private house, or being ushers to Protestant schoolmasters, should be punished as Popish regulars," that is, should be banished the kingdom, simply on pain of death, if they returned. It is, Sir, because I believe that in spite of the agitation which has been got up with reference to this question—an agitation easily 549 accounted for, when we know that 40,000 circulars have issued in one week from the Exeter Hall Anti-Maynooth Committee—it is because I believe that a new feeling has sprung up in this country with regard to Ireland, a desire to do justice for justice sake, even at the cost of deeply rooted prejudices, that I have felt it my duty to call the attention of the House to these Acts of the Legislature; to point out to them the fact, that it thus became an absolute necessity, that, in the course of two centuries, putting aside the original barbarism of the country, and the disastrous revolutions to which it had been subjected, a population should grow up, fearing not God, nor regarding man; ripe for revolt; without faith in the promises or confidence in the justice of their rulers; the victims of oppression and tyranny; the ready tools of the agitator and the disaffected. Their hatred to the law was natural; because that which in other countries was the refuge of the oppressed, they knew only as the instrument of oppression. Now, Sir, if we are to make any grant at all to the College of Maynooth, the arguments in favour of making that grant permanent, appear to my mind clear and unanswerable. Nothing, I am convinced, can be more injurious to the best interests of religion, than the feelings of bitterness kept up by these annual discussions between Protestants and Roman Catholics—nothing can be more lamentable than these periodical outbreaks of bigotry and intolerance. Bigotry and intolerance had, I thought, reached their utmost limits in the year 1843, when the Dissenters of England (of whom I am perfectly ready at all times to speak with respect, claiming for myself, however, the same liberty of opinion which I am prepared to concede to them) induced the Government to abandon their Bill for promoting Education in the Factory Districts—a measure which I thought then, and think now, would have been productive of great advantage to the people of this kingdom. Encouraged, it is to be presumed, by their success on that occasion, they have, however, out-Heroded themselves on the present occasion; and the fanaticism which then hurled its anathemas against the English bishops and the English Church, has now spent its violence, in terms as unmeasured, upon the Roman Catholic clergy and the College of Maynooth. But let us, in passing, consider 550 for one moment what are the materials of which the opposition to this measure is composed. On what ground, that is really tenable in argument, members of the Church of England can oppose this grant, as I have already stated, I am at a loss to conceive. That those who are in favour of the voluntary principle should oppose it is perfectly intelligible; but that my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, from whom I deeply regret to differ upon this question — that he should avail himself of their assistance, must surely remind every man in this House of that most instructive fable of the man, the horse, and the stag. Here is the great champion of the Protestant Church as by law established in England, and, what is more, of that Protestant Church as by law established in Catholic Ireland, calling in the aid of the Dissenters to refuse to endow a religious Establishment on principle; forgetting how he is placing his own Church in peril by so doing. The resistance to the grant to Maynooth on the part of those who would maintain intact the Protestant Church Establishment in Ireland, strikes me as one of the most suicidal acts recorded in history. But I must, in passing, call the attention of the House to the tone which has been adopted by the opponents of this measure, with reference to those Members of this House who have thought it their duty to support the measure proposed by Her Majesty's Government, and also to the spirit which only two short years ago animated those various denominations of Dissenters who are now in close alliance—I use the term in no offensive sense—with the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, and who represent themselves as the staunch defenders of the Protestant Church of this kingdom. Sir, the document which I hold in my hand, is a circular issued under the authority of the Central Anti-Maynooth Committee—a copy of which, no doubt, many hon. Members of this House have received. Now, I verily believe that if, some twenty years hence, a copy of this document should fall into the hands of some zealous Protestant, he will consider it to have been a device of the enemy. I should not be surprised to hear it asserted that this document was drawn up, pointed, and circulated by the Jesuits, in 1845, in order to bring discredit upon the opponents of this Bill, by the looseness of its 551 morality, and by the very questionable nature of the principles it lays down. They first desire the presence of friends from each district of the country to vindicate their petitions, (and if they are got up in the same way as some of the petitions of 1843, it will be no easy task so to vindicate them,) and to assure the Prime Minister of England that they but faintly express the unmitigated hostility of all classes of the community to his most offensive measure. Now, I believe much of this to be pure assumption. I believe that the hostility is not unmitigated in many quarters where it is supposed to exist, and that it is not shared to any great extent by all classes of the community. I believe that it does not prevail to any such great extent amongst the clergy of the Established Church; and I believe that the country may soon have reason to know that it does not extend to the whole number, certainly not to a large majority, perhaps not to a majority at all, of the prelates of that Church. Such feelings of hostility to the measure do not prevail, I am convinced, amongst the majority of the educated classes; nor, in spite of this un wearied agitation, amongst any great number of that portion of the population which, in a matter affecting the Christian faith, we are bound to place in the foremost rank, namely, the Christian poor of this country. The circular then goes on to insist upon the advantage of deputations from the various constituencies, to urge on their Representatives the duty of opposing this measure; for—Although those Gentlemen may have supported the second reading of the Bill, it does not follow," they could observe, "that they are hopelessly committed to it. The representations of their friends may materially influence their future conduct.Now, I do not know what right the opponents of this Bill have to hold such language towards Members of this House. It may not be a violation of Parliamentary privilege, but it is a violation of that right which every Englishman has, or is supposed to have—the right to be accounted innocent, until he shall have been proved to be guilty. Now, I am bound to believe, that those who have supported the second reading of this Bill, have done so, as English Gentlemen, sitting in this House ought to do, honestly and conscientiously; and I do not think that any deputation would have the effect of 552 making any hon. Member change a vote, given upon a most important question of State policy, after mature and deliberate consideration. I do not see how, under these circumstances, any honourable man could submit, at the instance of any deputation, to recede from the vote he had honestly given; to pass through the Caudine forks of reconsideration, and to preserve his seat by violating his conscience. That such advice should be even tendered to Members of this House, does look as if there might exist the spirit of Jesuitism, even beyond the precincts of Maynooth. The circular goes on to say, that Protestants should now forget their politics for the sake of their religion. Now this is precisely what was said to the Roman Catholics, mutatis mutandis, when the Factory Education Bill was before this House in 1843. They further entreat the deputies to inform their Representatives, Whig or Conservative, of the intensity and general prevalence amongst their constituents of a conscientious feeling against the endowment of Popery, and of the probable influence of that feeling upon the next general election. But be that influence what it may, I trust that the Members of this House will acquit themselves to their own consciences, by voting for or against this Bill upon their own judgment of its intrinsic merits; and that those who vote for it will do so without reference to any future election; and at whatever sacrifice, as I trust I am prepared to do myself, of private friendship or of political support. I cannot but advert here to the quiet assumption which runs through all the speeches of hon. Members who have spoken against this measure, that every Member on either side of the House, certainly on the Ministerial side, must have pledged himself at his election to oppose such a measure as this. Now, independently of having given no pledge on this or any other question (for I would not consent to hold a seat in this House upon any such condition), but independently of that, I did say at my election shat I would support to the best of my ability the Protestant Church of this kingdom; and I am now taking this step, and I am now supporting this measure, because I think, that inasmuch as it is an act of strict justice to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, it cannot therefore be detrimental to the cause of true religion, nor to the real interests of the Established Church. 553 In the close of their address the Committee state—Fellow countrymen, though we have endeavoured to address you calmly, we confess we are indignant at the combination of men of totally uncongenial politics to attack and undermine the Protestantism of this country. Be it ours to form a counter-alliance, based upon the primary doctrines of the Reformation, and upon a mutual forbearance with regard to minor differences. When the advocates of expediency combine, the friends of principle should unite together to resist a policy which is alike subversive of truth and justice.Here again, these persons quietly assume that all the honesty rests with themselves, all the dishonesty in this matter with their opponents; and they conclude, by saying—Be it ours, then, in the spirit of charity towards our Roman Catholic fellow subjects" (not fellow Christians) "to unite together with a generous and honourable respect for one another's opinions, political and ecclesiastical, and by one great and holy confederation to defeat this iniquitous measure.Now, it is really important for the cause of truth, that the House should consider who the parties really are who form this great and holy confederation; what is their bond of union; and what is their claim to the consideration of Parliament in respect of that union; other than that, agreeing to differ in all other points, they join for once in resisting this imperial act of justice to the Roman Catholic population of Ireland. These same ministers, and others of all denominations, who now sink their hostility to the Established Church of these realms, in favour of the Irish Roman Catholics, spoke of that Protestant Episcopal Church only twenty-four months ago—that Church, which they now profess their anxiety to defend — in language of the most unmeasured vituperation. This anguage was held by men of station and eminence amongst the Dissenting congregations. The successor of that great and good man, Robert Hall, the Baptist minister at Leicester, is reported to have said, at a public meeting, that—For his part, he would as soon entrust his children to the tender mercies of the polar bear, and the smiles of the hyæna, as think of entrusting them to the care of the English bishops.This, be it observed, is not the teaching of Maynooth; bigotry may exist there, 554 but it is clear that Maynooth has not a monopoly of intolerance. These charges, having served their turn against the English Church, are now transferred to the Pope and the Church of Rome. Again, speaking of the clergy, he said—I believe these gentlemen to be the most inveterate enemies of freedom which the country contains—to stand opposed to the progress of knowledge any farther than they can control it—to be hostile to free inquiry, and to all true independency of mind." "So decided are my opinions on this subject," he goes on to say, "that were I to descend to my grave to-morrow, I should desire no more honourable eulogy on my tomb than this, which I have some prospect of enjoying—the loud and long execrations of the clergy of these realms.Another Dissenting minister stated that—In Government schools we could not hope for the inculcation of divine truth, but only of Church of England principles;" and, "that sooner than let his children learn the Church catechism, he would give them poison.Now, Sir, I shall not do violence to my own feelings, nor weary the House, by making any further reference to the spirit which so recently prevailed amongst the leaders of those who are now the allies of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford—a spirit, which made a liberal journal (ordinarily favourable to Dissent) exclaim:—The violence of these men has made us ashamed of our company; it has done more—it has made us resolve, that the voice of our Christian protest shall not mingle with the insane howlings of politico-religious firebrands.Now, I would ask my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, and those Churchmen who act with him—whether it is on such support as this, that they are disposed to rest the maintenance of the Protestant Church Establishment in England and in Ireland? And I would ask the Roman Catholics themselves seriously to consider, whether the maintenance of that Church may not prove to be their best protection against persecution; if not, judging from the spirit of these remarks—against the re-enactment of the penal code itself? Sir, it appears to me that the political reasons for granting this endowment to Maynooth are entitled to great consideration. In the first place, a just cause of complaint will be removed; in the next, our measure will have a tendency to raise the character of the priesthood. When Lord Camden in 1795, as 555 quoted by the First Minister of the Crown, said in his address to the Irish Parliament, under circumstances so peculiar that they ought not now in quieter times to be forgotten; "A wise foundation has been laid for educating at home the Roman Catholic clergy;" what did he mean? Did he mean to speak as the representative of the Sovereign of a great Empire? Did he mean that this was but the beginning of a college, worthy of England—worthy of the numbers—the religious fidelity—commensurate with the wants, and calculated to meet the poverty of the Roman Catholic population of Ireland? Or, did he mean, that a paltry subsidy of 9,000l. a year was to be given as a sop to the Papal Cerberus—given grudgingly, to be received thanklessly — to be made the subject annually of acrimonious theological discussion in this House, rather than the source from which, through the instrumentality of an educated and enlightened priesthood, the blessings of Christian instruction were to flow to the remotest districts of Ireland? It is objected to us that Maynooth has failed. To a certain extent I grant that it has failed; but can any man lay his hand upon his heart, and say that the experiment has been fairly tried? We all know that it has not. But there is one argument which I have heard advanced in the course of these debates, against the increased provision which the Government proposes for Maynooth, which I have listened to, I must confess, with mingled feelings of shame and sorrow. That in an assembly of Christian men, it should be gravely objected to the College of Maynooth, that the young men there educated as priests are taken from the humbler classes of society; and that the fare they get there is as good as that which they could obtain at home, is something so strange that it might well-nigh seem incredible. When I talked of raising the character of the priesthood, I confess I was thinking rather of raising the standard of their education—of their intellectual advancement—than of increasing their luxuries, or of drawing persons of a higher rank into their order. I am not insensible to the desirableness of some change in this respect; but I am convinced, that it is the political degradation of their religion, and not the hardships of a priest's life, which has kept the higher orders of Roman Catholics in Ireland out of the Church, 556 as a profession. Those who know any thing of the working of the Roman Catholic Church must be well aware, that it has been more difficult to keep up the ranks of the easy and luxurious Benedictines, than of the self-denying brotherhood of La Trappe. God forbid that I should make the priests of Maynooth gentlemen, in the worldly sense of the term; if by so doing I were to withdraw them from that intimate communication which now exists between them and the great body of the people in Ireland. I would rather see them in the cabin of the peasant, than at the banquet of the peer. It has often occurred to me, indeed, that it might be an awkward question to answer, if put by a Roman Catholic to a member of the Church of England at the present time. "Looking at the state of some of your large towns, and manufacturing districts, where a great population has rapidly sprung up, which of the two churches has most claim at this moment to that which is said to be the peculiar characteristic of a Christian church; that 'to the poor the Gospel is preached'—the Protestant Church, as by law established in England; or the Roman Catholic Church, as by law, up to a very recent period, proscribed in Ireland?" But by this Act we shall do more. We shall quiet the conscientious Catholics and detach them, as we are now doing, day by day, more and more, both clergy and laity, from the career of political agitation. We shall also, indirectly, educate the people, for it is through the instrumentality of their priests, rather than through any mixed boards of national education, that I am disposed to look for the ultimate regeneration of the Irish people; and last, not least, having done that which is just and right, we shall be justified before the country, and shall feel ourselves justified, in adopting strong measures against the refractory, if they should be required; and when I hear that juries have ceased to convict in many parts of the country; that there is perfect impunity for crime; that the assassin stalks abroad in open day; and that the peaceable subjects of the Queen are exposed to murderous assaults, which they are not, and of course cannot be allowed by force to repel; I am, I must confess, the more anxious to do full and impartial justice to Ireland; in order that the sympathies of the people may be enlisted on 557 the side of order; and that we may be enabled to do that which is the bounden duty of every Government—namely, to preserve the innocent from becoming the victims of the guilty. I have been all along disposed, in the course of these observations, to treat this as a great question of State policy and of justice, rather than on the narrow grounds of compact; yet I think that even on that ground, on the ground of equity, the argument might be maintained. The Seventh Article of the Union supposes an amalgamation of the two countries in twenty years. It provides grants till then for maintaining institutions for pious and charitable purposes. Now, has any such amalgamation taken place? Has it been even possible? We are, therefore, bound in equity by the terms of that Article of the Union to the grant, and therefore to the principle of the grant, and in common sense, and in common justice, we are bound to increase that grant in proportion to the increasing wants of the population. Look, too, at what we have already done for other Churches. We have established and endowed Presbyterianism in Scotland, as the religion of the majority. We give the Regium Donum to the Protestant Dissenters of Ireland. If we are to object, as Protestants, to be taxed for the education of the Roman Catholic clergy, may not the Roman Catholics object, with equal reason, to being taxed to support the Protestant Dissenters, some of whom too, are tainted with Arianism? We have joined the Prussian Church, on the basis of the Augsburg Confession, and have united with them in establishing a sort of bishopric in partibus, at Jerusalem; and are we now to refuse to assist the Roman Catholics of Ireland to educate their clergy? I ask this House, solemnly, and I ask dispassionate and thinking men in this country, can we refuse as Christians, as Legislators, as Statesmen? If we do so refuse, I for one honestly confess, that I see no alternative but a Repeal of the Legislative Union with Ireland. Look, too, at the claims which the Irish have upon us. Look at their fruitful country—the source of a large revenue—and, under happier circumstances, holding out a sure promise of great and increasing prosperity to this kingdom. Look at their services in war, and God forbid that I should believe the traitors, if such indeed there be, who would have us to believe, against the 558 experience of the past, that if a foreign, war should break out, that generous and gallant people would desert us in the hour of peril. I know that they would not. This libel came not from the Saxon; and I leave it to those from whom it did come, to explain it to the Irish people. But I would have you look at their services in war, long before, in 1829, you had thrown open to them the higher posts in our army and navy. Look too at the fidelity of multitudes of Roman Catholics during the rebellion of '98; and let us remember that the Protestantism of the North was not then found the surest safeguard of the British power. Let us allow the Roman Catholics of Ireland to spend some portion of what they themselves raise, in educating the ministers of their faith; and as they submitted to the Union, let us carry out the terms of that great contract, not only in the letter but in the spirit. And surely it can scarcely be necessary that I should, before I sit down, press upon the Protestant people of England any apology for the attachment of the Irish people to their form of Christiantity. Let it be remembered all along, that they are uneducated, and therefore ignorant—that they look at the antiquity of the Roman Catholic faith, and that it is connected with all their recollections of Ireland's former independence and greatness—with the ruins of their monasteries; with all the romantic legends of their wild and beautiful country — that they look at the universality of their religion as compared with Protestantism; and that in the midst of his own poverty and degradation, the Irish peasant feels, and feels proudly, that he too belongs to that form of Christian faith to which the greater part of Christendom still reverently adheres. Think, too, of the nature of that religion; that it appeals to the senses, and is, perchance, better suited than our own to an uneducated and ignorant people, such as the peasantry of Ireland have been made in great measure by our legislative enactments. Let us remember too, that it has afforded them their only domestic comfort, their only consolation under our penal laws; and then we may cease to marvel that the Irish peasant clings to the faith of Rome. Nor is their hatred to Protestantism less natural. With us, in England, Protestantism is connected with all our ideas of civil and religious liberty, and with many 559 endearing associations. But how have they known Protestantism? They know it as the religion of the Pale—they know it as the religion of Elizabeth, and they test it by her treatment of O'Neill. They know it as the religion of the Puritans, and they test it by Cromwell's treatment of Drogheda—by the alternative of Hell or Connaught offered to their miserable forefathers; by all the awful atrocities and reprisals of that dreadful period. They know it as the religion of those who treated hem as rebels, because they adhered to their lawful Sovereign, before the Irish throne had been declared vacant by the Irish Parliament; who imposed the harsh Treaty of Limerick, and then violated that Treaty in all its most essential provisions. They know it, lastly, as the religion of those who devised and maintained the Penal Laws—a code to which that of Draco was merciful, inasmuch as the death of a freeman is better than the life of a slave. Until of late, we have left them without schools; there has been no effort on our part to remove the ignorance we ourselves created. Until now, each gift has been wrung from us—redress of grievances has followed, and not preceded agitation; but now at last, I trust, that a new epoch has come; a happier day has dawned upon these kingdoms—that of us, too, it may be said with truth:—Ultima Cumæi venit jam carminis ætas;Magnus ab integro sæclorum nasciturordo.Jam redit et Virgo—redeunt Saturnia regna;Jam nova progenies cœlo demittitur alto.Yes, Sir, in sober earnestness I do believe' in spite of all the agitation upon this question, that the people of Ireland are not to mistake the ripple upon the surface, for the deep stream of the popular will in this country. I do believe, that a generation has grown up in England, strangers to all the feelings excited by the proceedings of '98, and favourable to the measures now proposed for carrying out social amelioration in Ireland. It is my firm conviction, and I would seriously press it upon the Irish, of whatever creed or party, that it rests now rather with the Irish, than with the English people, whether the animosities and miseries of centuries shall be forgotten amid the advancing peace, prosperity, and civilization of Ireland. Not English tyranny, but Irish agitation, is now the bar to the improvement of that country. There may be some men base 560 enough to pervert even the facts of contemporary history to serve the purposes of faction; but no true man can deny that there is now an earnest desire on the part of England to do full justice to Ireland. Not, therefore, Sir, as having individually any leaning to Romanism; not as having any sympathy with the peculiar theological doctrines of the new school of Oxford; nor with what I must deem the intolerance of those who denounce this as an Antichristian measure; but as the advocate of civil and religious freedom; as the supporter of, and the maintainer of real toleration, I give my cordial support to the measure of Her Majesty's Government; and I do so, with the hope, and in the confident expectation, that this is the commencement of a larger—a more comprehensive — a more statesmanlike, and, as I said before, a more Christian system of government, with reference to the administration of affairs in Ireland; a system in which justice, and not conciliation, will become the measure of our policy—a system which will, I doubt not, bring about the time, which I trust that I, and many of those who now hear me, may live to see; when, united to us, not by hollow Acts of Parliament, but by that firmest, and closest, and most enduring of all bonds, the allegiance of the heart, Ireland will become the attached sister of England, and when a truth-telling and truth-loving Englishman will be able to speak without a blush of shame, or a pang of remorse, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
§ Mr. Mangles
was prepared to give his support to this measure. He fully agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Dorsetshire, that what was morally wrong could not be politically right; and, if it could be made out that this measure was morally wrong, he would not assent to it. But the principles of justice were at stake in this question, and he maintained that these principles ought not to be waved on account of circumstances arising out of the great religious revolution of the fifteenth century. The principles of justice had been grievously violated by our conduct towards Ireland. The taking away the Church property of the Roman Catholic majority, and giving it to the Protestant minority, was nothing less than an act of spoliation. As a Protestant he believed that the Church of Ireland had truth on its side; but he held 561 that no amount of error in others could justify a departure from the principles of justice. Nor did he believe the religious truths of Protestantism to be so weak as to require support from golden crutches; on the contrary, he believed that the Irish Church was considerably weakened by having these large emoluments, which had been so unjustly come by. Every means in the power of this country had been tried to keep down the Roman Catholics, but they had all failed; and at the present time, 20,000 bayonets were required to keep the Church of Ireland in its position. In fact, the Church of Ireland was the main grievance of the Irish people. He did not see the reason of the objection to the term restitution. Protestants now held possessions formerly the property of Catholics, and one Church had become rich by the poverty of the other. Restitution was, therefore, only giving back a part of that of which the Catholics had been deprived; and when the activity of the Dissenters upon this subject was mentioned, it ought to be borne in mind that they had been art and part in the spoliation of the Catholics. The present race of Dissenters was answerable for the acts of their forefathers; and they ought not to object to the concession of this mite to Maynooth, recollecting of how much they had deprived the Catholics in former times. A sense of religious obligation, therefore, ought to induce hon. Members to vote for this Bill. To the unhappy Irish people this country had neither done justice nor shown mercy. Measures of redress had been given slowly and grudgingly, bit by bit, and without any general attempt at amelioration. That sooner or later complete justice must be done to Ireland was a truth as evident as if it were written with a sunbeam; all other policy was idle, and though it might drag on a little longer it must terminate in dismemberment. Injustice and tranquillity could never co-exist, and taken at the best, this measure was only a petty instalment of an enormous national debt. As long as the Legislature cleaved to the Established Church of Ireland, and was determined to maintain it in opposition to the wishes of a vast majority of the inhabitants, peace, order, and prosperity could never be expected. Some persons affected to be astonished that Ireland was not grateful for concessions from this country. Why, our whole course of policy towards Ireland had been only a series of mitigations of injustice. Even if it could be maintained that by the Emancipation 562 Act we had imposed a debt of gratitude on those who were then relieved from disabilities, that rule could not apply to the new generation now growing up, who were never subject to these disabilities. Why not suffer the people of Ireland to have their own religion, as well as those of Scotland? Surely they might profit by the example and experience afforded by that country. He regretted exceedingly that in the course of the debates on this subject, the Roman Catholic religion had been compared with Hindooism and its obscene and bloody rites. He had always thought that Protestants admitted the possibility of salvation within the pale of the Roman Catholic Church. Had this country 300 years ago taken away the property which the Indian people devoted to their religious establishments, and at this period they still remained unconverted, he should be disposed to restore to them their religious endowments as an act of justice; and thus, in the case of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, he would give them back their ecclesiastical property, while at the same time he would have the Protestant Establishment supported where it was requisite. He should most gladly vote for the appropriating from the public funds of this country the proposed sum for the endowmen of Maynooth, as an instalment of justice to the Irish people.
§ Mr. Bickham Escott
said, he wished briefly to explain the reasons why he intended to give his vote in support of the original Motion, notwithstanding the speech of the Member for Dorsetshire. The whole of the debates on this subject were remarkable for one characteristic. He had heard other debates, wherein the preponderance of the arguments was all on one side; never one debate in which the arguments of the opponents of a measure told so entirely in favour of it. ["Oh!"] He did not expect that observation would prove palatable to those who had argued against this Bill. He wished its opponents to bear in mind that on this great question of conscience those who had professed to be the main supporters of the established religion of the country, had rested their opposition upon the question whether a sum of money to be given to an establishment, from which they differed, should be 9,000l. or 27,000l. ["No, no."] His hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford said "No;" and he could say "No" truly, because he had opposed the grant of 9,000l. But he should like to 563 hear those who supported that smaller grant, or who did not very strenuously oppose it, draw the distinction of principle in the case. The whole argument of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire rested upon the assumption that the people of England were opposed to this measure. He was of a different opinion; and he believed that no more unpopular act could be done by any Member of that House than to cause the rejection of the measure by his vote, if that were a possible contingency. He did not believe that any class of the people were opposed to this measure. He did not believe the clergy as a body were opposed to it. If they were, where were their petitions against it? Where was the petition from Cambridge which it had been attempted to get up, and which had so signally failed? Where were the like petitions from deaneries and archdeaneries? It was said, that there would be such an agitation in the country if this Bill passed, that it would end in the ejection of the Government, and the introduction of some unmentionable one. Now, he had spent ten days in the country, and had heard the opinions of many rural politicians, but found no opposition to the measure; and one of the best clergymen he ever knew had expressed himself in favour of it. He did not look upon this measure as a concession, but as an act of pure justice to the people of Ireland; and that was the grand principle upon which he should support it. It had been remarked, that there were very few petitions from Ireland against this measure. They were few indeed; for it was not very likely that the Irish people should petition against their own interest. They knew the advantages of a better system of education better than to reject it. But he was willing to admit that there was a conscientious opposition to this measure on the part of many out of that House, as well as on the part of some few within it. But, between the opposition out of doors and that within, there was a remarkable difference. Those out of the House opposed the Bill on sincerely conscientious and religious grounds; they were bold enough to avow that. But the opponents within the House did not venture to avow that they opposed it on religious grounds. Why? Because they knew full well that the same argument would go to the extent of saying that not only should a College for the priesthood of Ireland not be endowed, but that the existence of the priesthood should 564 not be tolerated, nor even the existence of the Roman Catholic people of Ireland! That system had been tried. It was tried by the Cromwellian Government. Several attempts had been made to put down the Catholic faith in Ireland, and to exterminate the Catholic people; but the people were found faithful to their creed. The power and tyranny of this country were then exerted to reform the Church of Ireland; but that Church had not converted the people; and the question was now, how those who had not been converted were to be governed on principles of justice and equity? Was it by diminishing or taking away the grant which had been given them since the year 1795? Even his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford would not go so far as to take away the 9,000l. [Sir R. Inglis: I would.] He had not heard that the hon. Baronet intended to abolish that grant, that it was to be one of his measures when he formed his Government. But was it just, under the altered circumstances of Ireland, with its increased population, to continue the grant on a scale disproportionate to their wants? But he could not argue the question as one of pounds, shillings, and pence. He must regard the measure as the foundation stone of that great system of benevolence, and peace, and good will, which the right hon. Baronet was so anxious to establish in Ireland. He disregarded the taunts of those who cried, "Look at the manner in which this boon is received in Ireland;" and who pointed to the language of the hon. and learned Member for Cork and others, who still declared themselves dissatisfied, and that they would remain so until they obtained the Repeal of the Union, or some other wild scheme. That was no argument against the Bill. The House should rather consider whether the good and the peaceable portion of the Roman Catholic community in that country were not already conciliated. He would rather take the opinion of the noble Lord the Member for Arundel fifty times over, than that of the hon. and learned Member for Cork. He wished not to see a measure which should satisfy the disaffected and turbulent, but one which should be acceptable to the good and well-disposed. He urged the opponents of the measure to remember that great precept, "Do to others as you would they should do to you." That rule would suggest the best mode of weighing the arguments used on both sides of the question. What should we say if it were 565 proposed by a Government to grant us, we being the minority of the people of England, a grant of inconsiderable amount, taking into account the separate burden cast upon the larger portion of the community, but considerable in amount and in good feeling towards us, proposed too by a Government of a different faith from our own; what should we say if the members of a Reformed or a Catholic Church stood between us and the Government, and objected to such a grant? We should tell our opponents that we drew a most unfavourable conclusion as to the discordance between their acts and their principles, and that we had learned that there was one crime for which there was no covering, persecution for conscience sake. Well, was it not persecution for conscience sake to deny a whole nation a measure of justice, because we differed in opinion from them? What should we think of such treatment if we were Catholics? We were in possession of the means for doing this act of justice; and we should remember that the possession of wealth brought upon us its duties as well as its advantages. That Church Establishment would rest on the best foundation when it was placed on the affections of the people, and when those affections were secured by the benefits it bestowed on the people. It might well be asked whether the munificence and piety of past ages had no claim upon those who had now succeeded to those vast endowments? Might not the Catholics say, "We point to your cathedrals and churches, your colleges and schools, and say, we built and endowed them. Your bibles we copied and preserved. Our wise men and lawyers enacted the constitutions and statutes on which your liberties rest; and, last of all, we invoke from the poor the attestation that we were ever their friends." He thought he should not do his duty as a member of the Church of England, and as a citizen of the United Kingdom, if he did not act in reference to this measure upon that divine precept he had quoted, and which he left any hon. Member who might think proper to notice his remarks to answer. He thought the Minister of the Crown had not acted contrary to that precept, but in a manner calculated to promote and secure the best interests and good government of the Empire. He rejoiced in this first step in the grand work of justice towards a most persecuted part of the United Kingdom; and he felt the day would come when those who opposed this 566 measure would regret their opposition—when they would find that it was part of a system by which the clouds of prejudice, bigotry, and oppression, would be made to give place to the light of a brighter day of charity and peace.
§ Mr. Spooner
said, that the hon. Member who had last spoken, could not have attended to the arguments of hon. Members opposed to him in argument, if he considered that they argued the question as one of pounds, shillings, and pence—the difference between 9,000l. and 27,000l. His hon. Friend would, perhaps, allow him to say that on a former occasion he had denounced that view of the question; that he did not view it as a question of money—that he looked at it solely and entirely as a religious question—and that he felt bound, from conscientious views, decidedly to oppose it. He likewise said, that he could not deal with this question as one of policy: for though he might doubt the policy, yet, to try the experiment, he would sacrifice everything but his conscientious opinions, in order to effect that object which he earnestly desired—the entire pacification of the sister kingdom. If he opposed the Government in this grant, he was not one whit behind in his anxiety to support them in every measure for the conciliation of the country, if they could conscientiously do so consistently with his support of the Protestant Church. His hon. Friend the Member for Honiton, Mr. M'Geachy—he did not know if he were in his place—had said that he would not deal with the question as a religious question. Now, there was no man in the House for whom he had a more sincere respect than for his hon. Friend; he had the privilege of enjoying the intimate acquaintance of that hon. Member, and he knew that he brought to the consideration of every subject an honest mind, a clear judgment, great intelligence, great assiduity, and far beyond the ordinary amount of talent; and he must own that it was always with regret he came to a conclusion opposite to that of his hon. Friend. But he must think that his hon. Friend had not looked into the question with all the serious calmness which its importance required. His hon. Friend had told them that as a member of the Church of England he did not see that any Article of the Church called upon him to denounce the Roman Catholic system as unchristian. Did his hon. Friend ever read the Thirty-first Article of the Church—that Church of which he 567 was an honest and a conscientious member? He wished his hon. Friend had been in his place while he read a few words from the Article. The words were to the effect that the sacrifice of masses, which the priests are said to offer for the living and the dead, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits. That was the language of the Article. He knew he should lay himself open to the ridicule of hon. Gentlemen opposite; but he wished to call upon the hon. Member for High Wycombe (Mr. Bernal Osborne), whom he saw in his place, and the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. Morgan O'Connell), he did not know if he was present; he wished these hon. Members to recollect that calling names was not the way to convince; that ridicule was not argument; and that when weapons such as these were resorted to by men whose powers of argument were undoubted, the only legitimate conclusion was, that argument had failed them, and, therefore, they had recourse to ridicule. He knew he should also subject himself to the animadversions of the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary; but he must remind that right hon. Baronet that the plea of numbers did not neutralize the charge of delusion. But, notwithstanding ridicule, and notwithstanding animadversions, he must repeat what he had said before, that he objected to the payment of the Roman Catholics, because he believed their doctrines embodied most awful delusions; and he would say, in answer to the remarks of his right hon. Friend, that there was a time—he was sure, from his knowledge of Scripture, his right hon. Friend would at once remember the period to which he alluded—that there was a time when the whole world, with the exception of a single family, were under the power of delusion. Would he say that the delusion was the less, because it was entertained by so many? He could assure his Roman Catholic fellow subjects, that towards them individually he entertained feelings of the most perfect friendship. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen might laugh: but he defied any Member of that House to refer to one action in the whole course of his past life, and from it to call his sincerity in question; and he would put it to themselves, whether what he said was not true, that if their religion was right, Protestants must be what they called them—absolutely heretics. He believed that they were conscientious disciples of their religion. He gave them credit for acting on the dictates of their 568 consciences. He impugned no man's motives; he felt he had no right to set himself up as the dictator of other men's faith. But that was not the point. The point was, should he contribute to the propagation of a religion which he believed to be based on error? If he were to do so, hon. Gentlemen would be the first to despise him; for their principles led them to denounce as heretics all those who did not believe the doctrines and principles which they professed. He thought the question had been argued hitherto on far too low grounds. The question before them was, whether the Protestant or the Roman Catholic religion was scriptural? Upon that hinged the question altogether. If the Roman Catholic religion was scriptural, Protestantism was indefensible—they were all in a complete delusion. If the reverse was the case, the delusion was on the other side. This, however, was not the place to enter into a polemical discussion. If it were, he would not flinch from maintaining what he had said. He knew that to avow an opinion without being able to state the grounds of that opinion, subjected a man to the charge of bigotry and intolerance; but he had said before this was not place for such a discussion. It could not be discussed in a popular assembly; they could not approach it in that calm seriousness, or in that absence from party feeling—that pure unsullied Christian temper, which every Christian would desire to bring to a subject that concerned the salvation of immortal souls. He knew that many of the remarks which he should be under the necessity of making would not be received very cordially by hon. Members opposite. But he could assure them that he was actuated by nothing but a conscientious desire to do his duty, and giving them the privilege which he asked for himself, that they should have a right to maintain that view which they conscientiously took, he should not flinch from stating openly and honestly his opinions, nor refrain from expressing the convictions which he entertained. He must say there was one part of this question which had hitherto been completely overlooked. He had troubled the House on former occasion with some remarks on the principle of this measure. The Bill was now before them as it came from the Committee, and it had left it filled with most objectionable details. The Committee had failed in its duty by reporting on this measure without inquiring, or without asking the House for power to inquire 569 into the nature of the teaching now in force at Maynooth; for he believed the majority of the House were totally ignorant of the doctrines that were taught there; and many, he believed, if they would take the trouble to listen to his statements, would be astonished at the doctrines which they were about to give money to propagate. But, before entering upon this subject, he must refer to the difference between giving an annual and a permanent grant. He had always voted against the smaller grant—still he conceived that hon. Members who had voted for the smaller grant were perfectly justified in voting against the larger and the permanent grant. An annual grant is very different from that which is to be of permanent amount, which creates a right of property—a right which might be sold or otherwise disposed of; which, if Parliament were afterwards to entertain its withdrawal, they would hear immediately of the force of vested rights; which, if it were destroyed, the security for every other vested right would be gone. He would now refer to the books that were taught at Maynooth; he would only trouble the House with two or three extracts, and he would take them from the Report laid on the Table of the House—no doubtful authority—no paraphrase of a book, like that which the hon. Member for Waterford read the other evening, and which he made the whole House to believe was a genuine extract from the writings of Luther; but which he (Mr. Spooner) had since discovered was a mere paraphrase of what was considered by the writer, a Roman Catholic priest, to be the tendency of Luther's writings. There was not a paragraph, there was not a line of the quotation would he could find in the writings of Luther—though, from the way in which the hon. Member had read the extract—he was sorry he did not see him in his place—every Member must have thought that he was quoting from the writings of Luther. He would not deal so in his quotations; he would take the books which were reported by the Committee to the House as the text books used in the College at Maynooth; and the first book he would begin with, as quoted in the 449–50th pages of the Appendix of the Irish Committee's Report was Bailly, who, in his second volume, page 121 (Dublin edition, 1829), stated that "a Superior of the Regulars (the Religious Orders of the Church of Rome) could validly, even without cause, make void the oaths of those 570 subject to him;" and also stated, at page 138, "that the Supreme Pontiff, inasmuch as he was Supreme Prelate of the Religious (Orders) to whom they promised obedience no less than to their own superiors, could also make void all their vows." And he then quoted from page 121, to show that "vows and oaths stood on an equal footing." In page 140 of Bailly, the proposition is laid down that "there exists in the Church a power of dispensing with vows and oaths, which he attempts to prove from Matthew, chap xviii. "Whatsoever ye loose on earth," &c. Dr. M'Hale, the present Roman Archbishop of Tuam, is examined on this, and at page 283, he is asked if he has to come to the conclusion that that text authorises this dispensing power, and he answers—"I believe the conclusion in (Bailly) the text book." This same author, Bailly, states, vol. ii. page 145, that among other "just causes" of dispensation, was "the utility of the Church." He was confirmed by Thomas Aquinas. [At this moment the hon. Member for Waterford entered the House, when Mr. Spooner reverted to his quoting, as the opinions of Luther, the paraphrase of a Roman Catholic writer, who merely gave what he conceived to be the tendency of Luther's doctrines, and added that that was not a fair way to make quotations.] The hon. Member should have told the House that these were not the words of Luther, but the opinions a Roman Catholic writer entertained of Luther. He must confess he had doubts at the time the hon. Member read them; but, from the general caution and fairness of the hon. Gentleman, he could not bring himself to believe that he would have made the quotation in such a way if it had not been accurate. He then went on with his quotations from the text books at Maynooth, Thomas Aquinas and others. He took Thomas Aquinas, because that author had been specially recommended by the Propaganda at Rome as an authority to be consulted in regard to all doubtful questions in the Roman Catholic Church. The document to prove this was found at page — of the Appendix of the Forty-fifth Report of 1827, and was most important for this purpose. The Roman Catholic bishops, in their reply (p. 46), promised to take him as their master in such points. In this he was confirmed by Bailly and by M'Hale, that the utility of the Church was a just cause for the dispensation of oaths, and that the superiors of the Church were the only 571 judges of what was for the utility of the Church—(Report, page 284). Then there was Cabassatius. ["No."] Why, that was one of the class books. If that was denied, let them have inquiry. It was so stated in the Report to which the First Minister of the Crown had referred them, telling them that though he did not think that Report had exhausted the subject, yet he did not anticipate that any good end would be answered by further examination. If that Report was not to guide them, then let them have inquiry. They challenged inquiry, they wished for it, they asked for it; and they had been answered that inquiry was unnecessary; that they must look into this Report, and there they would find all the inquiry they wanted. Well, he had looked into the Report, and these were the extracts he had made from it. That author stated, page 24 (XIII.), that the bishop of the Church of Rome had the power to dispense with, relax, or commute oaths for a just cause. But then who was to be the judge of what was a just cause? Why, the answer was given already, the Roman Catholic prelate or superior. He would then refer to a lower ground, a ground which he unwillingly brought into the debate, but which he could not wholly overlook. He would ask the hon. Member for Montrose whether he was prepared to grant a large sum of money for the support of the College, into the conduct of which they were refused inquiry? He would ask him, would he give this money without further inquiry? He would ask more, would he lay this precedent, that a certain number of persons, however respectable they might be, should have the control over a public fund, without giving any account to Parliament as to its use? Parliament—to use the language of the Prime Minister in 1840 (since which, times had changed and men also), thus neglecting its paramount duty of providing that all money granted by the Vote should be applied under its control. There was also another subject to which the Report referred, and which should have a powerful influence on the question. It appeared, on the authority of St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Secunda Secundæ, vol. i., page 132, (Lyons)—That as soon as any Sovereign is sentenced to excommunication on account of apostacy from the faith, her subjects (or his) are ipso facto absolved from his (or her) dominion, and from the oath of fidelity by which they were before held.572 Now, was that the doctrine which this House was to pay for being taught? And this was one of the class books of Maynooth returned as such in the Report, and yet we needed no inquiry! It was further stated in the fullest manner by Dr. Selvin, page 219, that—We hold that baptism is the gate of the true Church (he had before said that Protestant baptism was valid baptism), and considering the Roman Catholic Church to be that Church, we consider all baptized persons to become members of the Roman Catholic Church.Dr. Selvin, in page 220 of the Report, in defence of that passage, urged alone that no practical inconvenience could result from it in a country which was not Catholic, and where the civil and religious power were not bound up together in the State. If that did not mean that the consequences would be in accordance with the dogma of the schoolmen — if the religion of the Roman Catholics were made a part of the Civil State—it meant nothing, and he therefore warned the House, and called on the Protestant Members to pause before they took a step which they could not recede from in the matter. It was idle to think that the measure could be dealt with as a final measure. The Roman Catholic could not be faithful to his religion, holding it, as he did, to be the primitive Church of Christ, if he stopped short in his efforts until it had attained the supremacy. The concession now about to be made to the Roman Catholics would serve as another stepping-stone to the attainment of that object, and would offer them an additional 'vantage ground to effect a purpose which Protestants should never concede. If there were any doubts on the subject, the present was the time for inquiry. He had quoted the doctors of that Church to prove his case, and it should be borne in mind that the Roman Church, in accordance with its claim to infallibility, could never change. That the doctrines promulgated by them were contrary to the Constitution of this country, and to the peace, happiness, and individual comfort of the people, he had no need to point out to the House. He called on those, therefore, who prized the one and valued the other, not to yield in this instance, without at least inquiring into the whole subject. He called on them to remember what concession on these points had led to. The Roman Catholics, previous to the Relief Bill, had on oath, before the other House, declared that all they 573 desired was civil rights and civil equality; and that they would not, even had they the power, touch the property of the Protestant Church in Ireland. Now, however, they demanded the partition of that property; and the concession that was proposed by the Government was accepted by them only as an instalment. There was another view of the question to which he called the attention of the House. The declaration of the Sovereign of these realms at the Coronation was, that "the sacrifice of the mass, as celebrated in the Church of Rome, was idolatrous and superstitious." Could any Government—could his (Mr. Spooner's) right hon. Friend at the head of the Treasury—propose to Her Majesty to consent to such a measure as that before the House, while that declaration continued in full force? Before Her Majesty's consent was asked, the head of the Government, or the Lord High Chancellor of England, should, in discharge of a paramount duty, ask for a Resolution of Parliament abrogating that declaration, and pronouncing it not binding, not alone upon Her Majesty, but upon any future Sovereign of the realm. And he did most solemnly hold the right hon. Baronet and Her Majesty's advisers to be responsible for all the consequences of this measure. The feeling which existed in the country on the subject of the grant was said not to be spontaneous, but the work of agitation; and the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had termed it a popular effervescence; but it was wholly incredible that a few men in London could stir up the whole nation, or produce such a heap of petitions as crowded the Table of that House against it. The heart of the people of England was roused within them; the question was a religious question, involving all that they hold most dear; that was the cause of the agitation that prevailed on the subject. The warning of last Session given by his right hon. Friend did not affright them, because they still looked upon him as the Protestant leader of the Protestant party; and because they knew that he had been placed in power by them only four years before to preserve and conserve the Constitution of the country, which by this Act he was about to impair and destroy. Therefore there was no excitement then upon the subject. But if the right hon. Baronet doubted the existence of feelings of the deepest nature now, he (Mr. Spooner) challenged him to bring the question to an issue, by appealing 574 to the country. Such an appeal was most due to the people of this United Kingdom; it was due to the Sovereign who was placed by this measure in a most dangerous and embarrassed position, and it ought to be yielded. He (Mr. Spooner) called on his right hon. Friend to trust to the Protestant principle, and throw himself on the Protestant feeling of the country for support; and he warned him that if he did not, the Protestant people of England would not submit to the mighty change which he proposed to make in the Constitution. However much the feeling that prevailed might be undervalued by his right hon. Friend, one thing was certain, it was a feeling deeply rooted in the minds of the people of this country, and he might be sure that sooner or later it would break out in acts. He (Mr. Spooner) therefore called on the House to pause while they could do so, before they acceded to a proposition which so deeply affected the peace, the happiness, and the power of the country, as that contained in the measure before them.
§ Mr. C. Buller
said, he had told his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford that he was doing an exceedingly foolish thing in referring to the question of doctrine; that it was a subject on which it was by no means desirable to enter, as he might be sure they would have a volume of theology read on the other side as a reply to him; and they had that night witnessed the truth of his conjecture. They found that the hon. Member for Birmingham had been neglecting all the other questions in which he generally took so deep an interest, and had been devoting himself to the perusal of the voluminous works of Roman Catholic divines. He believed it was 140 folio volumes which St. Thomas Aquinas had left for the instruction of posterity, all of which hon. Members would be expected to go through; and then the hon. Gentleman had quotations from Taliocotious, and a variety of other men, all referring to the two or three doctrines which the hon. Member had brought forward in that House to condemn. The hon. Member had told them that, because these objectionable passages were to be found in the deep collections of some writers of the Roman Catholic Church whose works were read in Maynooth, and which remained as great monuments of barbarous times from former ages, that therefore the present grant was to be refused. Were they to be told that nothing 575 could, after this, be found in the works of Protestant divines as an answer to these quotations, and that the question should be left as it now stood? He could assure the hon. Member for Birmingham that he was not at all disposed to join in the laughter which the hon. Gentleman appeared to apprehend so much from that side of the House. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that he felt inclined to anything rather than mirth at the speech which he had just heard; and that instead of being amused, he felt pained that the question should have been debated in such a spirit by the hon. Member. He was pained that the hon. Member should, after calm reflection, have come down to that House and repeated the attack against his Roman Catholic fellow subjects, that they were labouring under an "awful delusion," and that he should have backed that insult by picking out some most offensive passages from old writers of the dark ages. He should say that he could scarcely imagine any more awful delusion than that of a Gentleman in that House thinking that by such a course of proceeding he was facilitating the good government of this Empire, or that he was at all entitling himself to the virtue, for which he took credit, of entertaining the most kindly feelings to all his Catholic countrymen, while he came forward on that public occasion to insult them in such a manner as they had heard that evening. He hoped there was no occasion for the last advice which the hon. Member had given to the right hon. Baronet at the head of Her Majesty's Government, and which had also been given by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, namely, to dissolve Parliament on this question. He did not see any necessity for the adoption of such a course. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire had referred to the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department having advised the dissolution of Parliament on the Reform Bill; but the reason was, that the Parliament had thrown out the Bill which had been introduced by Ministers. But the House had not thrown out the Maynooth Endowment Bill, and there was not the slightest chance of its doing so. He thought there was, therefore, not the least danger of a dissolution to be apprehended. He certainly had no reason to be particularly apprehensive on this matter; for he could say, what he believed there were very few hon. Members on his side of the House able to state, that since the 576 very commencement of the present discussion he had received no remontrances from a single one of his constituents for the part which he had taken in supporting the Government measure. He could not flatter himself that he carried along with him the feelings of all his supporters. He might have the misfortune of losing the support of some of them; but those who did differ from him on this question had the justice to perceive that the support which he gave to the Bill was in perfect accordance with the principles which he had always professed; and they, at the same time, deserved the great credit of understanding the real principles of representative government, by not seeking to interfere with him in the course which he was taking. Now, he would feel that it was an abandonment of every great object which he had in view in politics, if he had done otherwise than give his most strenuous and anxious support to the Bill before the House. He regarded a provision for the education of the clergy of the Irish people to be in itself a great good; but looking at the circumstances under which this measure had been proposed by the Minister of the Crown, he could not help viewing it as a great step in the proper direction in the policy of this country towards Ireland, and as a change in that policy which was not merely the change of one particular party or set of men, but which involved principles that should be followed up by whatever Government would hereafter seek to rule Ireland. Taken in that light, the measure served to mark a very great step in the progress of that struggle which the Irish people were now making to get justice and equality for their religion. They had first the struggle for the repeal of that detestable code which made the profession of their religion penal. After that came, step by step, the efforts that secured to the professors of their religion all the civil rights which they now enjoyed; and it was worthy of notice, that every one of these concessions was yielded to the Roman Catholics, not by those who originally supported their rights, but by the party that had been hostile to them up to the last moment—thus showing that the prejudices of this country against them were so strong, that these rights never would be conceded until the triumph of justice had fairly broken down these prejudices in the minds of those by whom they were most cherished. And now they had taken a 577 third great step in the progress towards doing justice to the Roman Catholics. After obtaining the free exercise of their religion—after obtaining the enjoyment of some civil offices, which had been long held exclusively by the remaining portion of the community—the last thing that remained for them to struggle for was to have their religion treated with the respect due to a national institution. Little by little the Legislature had been admitting these principles; but never except when there existed an absolute necessity for doing so. The recognition of the reliligion of 8,000,000 of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom was a great fact not to be evaded by political faction. They had been obliged to appoint Catholic chaplains for Irish regiments, Catholic chaplains for Irish gaols and workhouses, and Catholic clergy to attend to the wants of Irish colonists; and now the time had come when these admissions, instead of being acknowledged as an anomaly, were to be recognised as a principle. The Bequests Act of last Session, by which the voluntary endowment of the Catholic Church was provided for, and the Commission under that Act which gave to the bishops of that Church their rank as prelates of a national Church, followed; and lastly came the present Bill, which provided for the efficient education of the clergy of the Irish people, and recognised the great principle of treating their Church as a national institution. There was one point with respect to which he would make some concession to the opponents of the Bill. They stated that the excitement out of doors was an answer to the policy on which he thought that Ireland should be governed. The excitement certainly, he admitted, was not disproportionate to what they required; but that was not the way in which the subject should be viewed. If this had been an isolated measure, he should not regard it as of much importance; but it was not so. For when they looked at the excellent measure for academical education in Ireland, and when they connected with it the promise of assimilating the municipal franchise of Ireland with that of England, whatever might be their objection to some of the details, still he must think that they would carry with them extensive benefits; and, above all, as they showed a spirit of conciliation towards Ireland. Therefore, he said, that it was the duty of any friend to Ireland, and to every one anxious to do justice to that 578 country, and to maintain the connexion between the two countries, to give their support to the present policy of the Government. For his own part, he would not give a cold or hesitating support to this or the other measures; for he felt, when the quarter from whence they came was considered, success appeared of double importance in his eyes, and he would give them as strong and unhesitating support as if they had been introduced by a liberal Administration, and as if the fate of a liberal Ministry depended on their success. He believed that the future policy of Government towards Ireland depended on the success of these measures; for their failure would be attended with awful consequences, and would give just cause of complaint to the people of that country. It would do much to advance the Repeal question, as it would give a strong show of reason for the adoption of that opinion; and, as he believed, that was the only thing which was wanted to give success to it. The claims of the Irish people to have their religion upheld were as strong and as powerful as the claims for the support of the religion of the people of England. The grant to Ireland was founded on the clearest dictates of justice; and 26,000l. a year was surely the smallest grant they could make, when they had deprived the people of that country of the large revenues which their ancestors had given for the endowment of the Catholic Church. It appeared that the arguments against this measure on both sides resolved themselves into two, namely, that they should not contribute to anything connected with the Catholic Church, because they regarded her doctrines as erroneous; and the second objection was, that they should not contribute to the Catholics in this or any other shape, because it was contrary to the voluntary principle, according to which they should not give anything to any Church. He did not think that there was much in either of those arguments; but certainly the least reasonable of them appeared to be that which rested on the voluntary principle; for whatever might be the merits of the voluntary principle, it certainly could not be one of them that it should be applied capriciously. It might be very well to refuse to give to every Church Establishment; but it would not do to say that one alone should not be established. They now not only endowed the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ireland, but the Presbyterian Church in Ulster, and even the 579 Unitarian Presbyterians; and when they were asked to carry out the principle to the religion of the great majority, they turned round and buttoned up their pockets, and said that they would not contribute, because it was contrary to the voluntary principle. Surely it was not just to call upon the Catholics of Ireland to pay all these Protestant Establishments, and give nothing to their own Church. He did not think that there was much force in the arguments used by the hon. Gentleman against this measure; for he feared after all that the "No-Popery" cry was lurking at the bottom of all, and that an unjust hatred of the Catholic religion predominated in all the specious arguments which had been used. The measure was opposed because Gentlemen held the doctrines of the Catholic Church to be objectionable; but he conceived that persons entertaining strong opinions against such doctrines might most reasonably vote for this measure. For his own part, he admitted that many of the doctrines of that church, and more particularly when mixed up with the rubbish of the old schoolmen, were erroneous; but he did not believe that he was liable for all the errors in faith in a religion which was that of a large portion of the people. It appeared to him that the principle of civil Government applied as well to the religion as to the maintenance of the law and to the security of property, to the great portion of the community. You said that the religion of the great portion of the people of Ireland was unsound and erroneous? Now, could they not point out other parts of the country in which erroneous religious opinions exist, and, therefore, on this principle should not receive the sanction of the State? He believed that they should support laws, in cases even when founded on erroneous opinions; for it would often happen that much greater evils would follow from at once abrogating them. Nothing could be more atrocious than some of the principles on which the law of property was upheld; but they still adhered to them, because they believed that the utmost evil consequences would follow from wantonly interfering with the law of property. In the same way hon. Gentlemen thought it just that a certain Establishment should be kept up because it was their faith; and on the same ground that they called for the support of their faith, should they extend the principle to Ireland. It had always appeared to him that the repugnance of this country to the religion of the Irish 580 people should have ceased at the time of the Union. He did not mean to say that the religious opinions of the people were not to be considered in forming the Union; but when it was determined that the people of both countries should live under the same Government, they could not go back and deprive the people of Ireland of the rights of justice. If this feeling did not weigh as an objection to the Union at the time it was adopted, they should now hold their peace. As for the determination of treating one portion of the people in the way which was urged by the opponents of this measure, it appeared to him to be so serious, that he would say they must abandon that feeling towards Ireland, or they would produce a separation between countries, the one of which so attempted to deal with the other. Viewing then this measure, and the principles on which it was founded, as of such great importance, and as involving principles without which they could not maintain the connexion with Ireland, he was not less inclined to support it in consequence of any misconduct on the part of the Ministers who introduced it. Looking at the bold course which they had taken, he thought that it was impossible to doubt that they had made up their minds to other measures which would follow this, framed in the same spirit. When they relied on the No-Popery feeling which was raised in the country to thwart the liberal measures for Ireland which were proposed by the Melbourne Government, he reproved them for adopting a course which he considered opposed to good sense and justice; but he would not renew these reproaches, when they had adopted a course of policy founded in justice and wisdom, for no doubt they were now acting honestly, for they were staking their future prospects of power on measures which nothing but an honest sense of duty would have induced them to bring forward; and they had in consequence exchanged the support of the united party which placed them in power, for that of those who had hitherto acted on the principles which they had now adopted. But he denied the assertion of Gentlemen opposite, who were seated below the gangway, that the right hon. Baronet had deceived them. He said this, because he believed that they never had confidence in the right hon. Baronet, for they used to confess that he was not one of themselves, and in all measures with respect to Ireland, that he did not take that high course which they wished, but placed his opposition on 581 some ground of temporary expediency. There was no secret in those opinions: the whole world was acquainted with them. The case was precisely the same as that which happened with regard to all parties who entertain such ultra opinions. They were obliged to place themselves under a moderate leader, whom they thought they could coerce when they got him into power, but they soon found out that they were mistaken. It was of great importance, in discussing such topics as that which was before them to-night, that they should abstain on both sides of the House from irritating expressions and mutual recriminations. It was not fit for them to reproach the right hon. Baronet with adopting their policy, nor was it fit for the other side of the House to say that the right hon. Baronet was able to carry measures which they on his side could not. The fact was, they were mutually dependent on each other. They could not carry out a just policy towards Ireland without cordial co-operation on both sides of the House; and, notwithstanding all that had been said about public opinion and the British lion, he had no misgivings about their being able by their united strength to carry this measure. It seemed to him to be an essential condition to the success of every great step in the improvement of their policy towards Ireland, that it should proceed from the Minister who adopted an opposite policy as long as it was possible; but if the right hon. Baronet was discouraged by the cry which was raised against this measure from going further, then an irreparable blow would be given to the best interests of Ireland. But let him pursue his policy of conciliation, and they on that side of the House would feel it their duty to give him all their aid, and in a spirit which should induce him to carry other measures, and similar in their tendency to the present. They would give the right hon. Baronet a cordial support; and they would console themselves in the hope that, whatever credit the right hon. Baronet might get from adopting their policy, public opinion would be more just to them than some of their Irish friends had been—that it would not be forgotten that they sacrificed considerations of party to the carrying out of principles of justice—and that they were now giving a cordial co-operation to the Government to enable them to carry those principles out. He trusted the right hon. Baronet would recommend himself to posterity by the 582 adoption of sound policy, and not by a blind adherence to a former vicious one; and in this respect he might take a good lesson from the first speech made by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department on this question; for nothing tended to conciliate men's minds towards the measure—at least the friends of a liberal Government—towards Ireland more than the frank avowal made by the right hon. Baronet of past error, and his distinct declaration to repair it by future measures. In his opinion it was an error which they committed in talking of the history of Catholic Emancipation, that the Repeal cry was excited in consequence of that measure. He thought that what followed Catholic Emancipation, rather than the measure itself, produced that demand for Repeal; for what followed the measure took from it all its grace and efficacy, because the Government of this country, feeling that they could no longer fall back on the old Tory policy, and could no longer proscribe the people of Ireland for their religion, persecuted them as a party. They might see from the policy which Lord Melbourne adopted towards Ireland, who, though he was unable to carry any great measures for Ireland, had yet conciliated the people of that country, and had completely put down the Repeal cry, how easy it would be for them, if adopting a similar policy, to produce the same effects. It was not alone by legislative measures that they could produce such results, as it was not by legislative measures that Lord Melbourne's Government produced them. They depended much more on the spirit in which legislation was carried out. A great advantage had been gained when Lord Melbourne for the first time vested the administration of the law in the hands of those in whom the people confided. The people felt that Lord Melbourne's Government did for them what no other Government had heretofore done—confided in those in whom the people confided; and the people in return confided in his Government, even though he had not the power to do all he wished for them. The cry of Repeal was put down because the people felt they had something else to look to besides the chimerical project of Repeal. But the people had not that confidence in the present Government, and that was the reason why the measures of the Government were not so well received in Ireland as might be expected. This was made use of by Gentlemen 583 opposite as an argument against further conciliation; but was it not natural that the people of Ireland should distrust them, and how could it be expected that the wrongs of ages could be cured by a single measure, or in a day? The first reception which the measure met with was calculated to inspire the right hon. Baronet with confidence in the justice and wisdom of the course he adopted. The people of Ireland were waiting to know whether the policy which was begun so well would be followed up; and, if it was, the right hon. Baronet would calm the people of Ireland as the former Government had done. He confessed he did not look upon the Repeal cry as most persons in that House did. He was as well aware of its mischievous consequences, both to Ireland and England, as any one was; but he did not look upon it as so absurd a scheme as some seemed to view it. It was a question which had been for a long time before the people of Ireland—the people had grown up to hope in it—they looked upon it as the great remedy for Ireland. The feeling, from having existed so long, assumed a character of great difficulty and importance; and it was well worthy of the greatest Ministry that could be entrusted with the government of this country to take all the pains in their power to struggle against this feeling, and to endeavour to obviate its most alarming consequences. The right hon. Baronet was taunted with what he said about the Oregon question. In his opinion the right hon. Baronet was rather too hardly dealt with, because his acts placed him above suspicion with regard to the present measure. It was true he used some foolish phrases, and some silly metaphors; and that Nemesis, who presided over their debates, avenged the employment of those phrases and metaphors in the hon. Member for Peebles-shire (Mr. Mackenzie), who told his constituents that he saw a small black cloud no bigger than his hand; so that he thought the First Lord of the Treasury was amply punished for his metaphors by its last Lord. But it could not be doubted that as long as Ireland continued in her present state, so long would she be a source of weakness to England. There were many Oregons in Ireland, and in the policy pursued towards her; and as long as that policy was continued, other countries would avail themselves of it. He supported the measure because he thought, not without a full consideration of its consequences, that it was a wise and conciliatory 584 one; and he trusted the right hon Baronet would go on as he had commenced, because, by so doing, he was sure he would put down the Repeal cry, and would restore to this country the entire affection of the Irish people; and he only hoped that henceforward, as was said, by an hon. Member that night, the policy of this country towards Ireland would be one not of conciliation, but of justice—and that, instead of waiting for the pressure of agitation in Ireland, and scared by agitation here, the Government of this country would persevere in a policy which would abate all animosities between the two countries, and enable the Government to take those measures for repairing the material condition of Ireland, which would make that country the glory of the Empire, instead of being, as now, its opprobrium.
§ Sir V. Blake
was grateful for the measure, and he thanked the Government with all his heart for it. He could not see how this measure, which would increase the prosperity of Ireland, could interfere with the Established Church in this country. He was therefore surprised at the outcry which had been raised against it. The hon. Member for Birmingham had read various theological extracts to the House to-night, but the opinions put forward in them were disclaimed by the priesthood and the people of Ireland. He thought that the Oath of Supremacy ought to be done away with. It was not his fault that it was not, for he made a Motion on the subject a Session or two ago, but he was opposed by the hon. Member for Birmingham and men of his kidney. He trusted that the course began by the Government would be followed out to a triumphant termination, and that the time would not be long before he beheld two Universities in the city of Dublin, one of them in the form it now stood, and the other on the other side of the question. As he said before, he thanked the Government for the boldness they had shown with regard to the present question.
§ Viscount Ingestre
wished very shortly to state the reasons which actuated him in giving a vote in favour of this measure, and in opposition to the wishes of many of his constituents, from whom he conscientiously, but with the greatest respect, differed in opinion on this subject. It was true he had hitherto always voted against the annual grant to Maynooth; but he did so because, having had an opportunity of visiting that establishment, he had felt it 585 to be his duty to vote against the grant, because he considered it to be of an amount too small to be of any advantage in respect of the object for which it was intended. It had been often stated, during the progress of these discussions, that the conduct of Her Majesty's present Government was nothing else than that of their predecessors in office. That, however, he denied; and he might add, that if this measure had been proposed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, he should certainly have opposed it; and for this reason, that when those Gentlemen were on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, there was a constant system of truckling to the party over the water; whilst, on the contrary, the present Government had first asserted the majesty and supremacy of the law, and then endeavoured to give to Ireland measures of conciliation of a very different character from those of the Government which had preceded them. He had himself always been well inclined to what was vulgarly called "Justice to Ireland;" but, at the same time, he had no idea of justice to Ireland being crammed down one's throat—by illegal means. He considered this measure calculated to be beneficial to Ireland, and he should therefore give it his support, though he must confess that he should have preferred to see some modification of it in one or two particulars. He should have preferred to have its duration limited to five or seven years by way of trial, before they were called upon to give a final vote upon it; and also to have seen a provision introduced into it giving a greater degree of supervision over the literary acquirements of those who received instruction by means of the money voted in support of this Establishment. He had felt it to be due to those of his constituents from whose sentiments on this subject he regretted to differ, to explain the grounds on which he gave his support to the measure.
§ Sir R. Peel
expressed his regret that the Motion for adjournment had been made, and ventured to prophesy that there would not be, if the debate were to begin at five o'clock the next day, and continue till ten, so many Members in the House as there were at that moment ready to give their attention to the arguments of any Gentleman who was disposed to address the House upon this measure. He must say that, except in the case of this Bill, he thought he had perceived during the present 586 Session a growing disposition on the part of the House to correct the system of unreasonably protracted debates; and he should regret to see an inclination to revert to that system. With respect to this measure itself he had a strong impression that the lapse of time which had taken place since it had been brought before the country had had the effect of gradually abating the popular feeling against it. He regretted, however, that the Motion for the adjournment had been made, and was, for his own part, quite ready to remain in the House for another hour or two; but, under all circumstances, he did not think there would be much advantage in protracting the debate that night.
§ Debate adjourned.